Controversial artist Richard Prince must face a lawsuit over his unauthorized use of photographer Donald Graham's photo 'Rastafarian Smoking a Joint,' a federal judge has ruled. The ruling concerns a 2015 lawsuit Graham filed against Prince after he failed to heed a cease and desist order. Prince and Larry Gagosian, owner of the Gagosian Gallery where the pilfered image and others were displayed, had claimed the work is 'transformative' in an effort to have the case dismissed.

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Though Prince has managed to escape past lawsuits unscathed, this latest one may prove different. Talking about the 'transformative' claims, U.S. District Judge Sidney H Stein stated, "The primary image in both works is the photograph itself. Prince has not materially altered the composition, presentation, scale, color palette and media originally used by Graham."

Graham's version of the image was acquired from another Instagram account where it was featured; he had it enlarged and printed with his own Instagram-style comment beneath the original user's caption. The exhibit at Gagosian contained a total of 38 of these 'borrowed' images, including the Rastafarian photo cited in the lawsuit. The court's ultimate ruling on the lawsuit could set a major precedent for fair use as it relates to Instagram images.

Via: New York Times