Patrick Cariou has filed his much-anticipated responsive brief in the Richard Prince/Gagosian Gallery copyright infringement appeal. Cariou’s brief makes its stand on the question of transformative use. The degree to which a derivative work is transformative of a protected work is, of course, a central element of a fair use analysis about which Prince will have to persuade the Second Circuit to overturn the judgment below. In so doing, however, one starts to wonder if this case will be of less precedential value—less transformative, if you will—than it has seemed since the judgment last year.
The Richard Prince copyright case is in the news again, though probably more than it deserves. Patrick Cariou, whose photographs Prince was found this spring to have infringed, moved to dismiss Prince’s appeal arguing that the injunction concerning the impoundment and destruction of the existing works (Prince was ordered to deliver them for destruction) was mooted by a stipulation between the parties. Thus, Cariou argued, there was nothing at the moment to appeal (i.e. Prince appealed to soon).