I was excited to take the Intellectual Property Survey course at Loyola with Professor Ho in the fall of 2021. However, when the class got to the topic of copyright, I struggled with two topics in that area, one of which was “improper appropriation.” This dealt with a part of the copyright infringement test that determined whether there was substantial similarity between the two works at issue based only on their protectable expression as I discussed in “Righting about Copyright, Part 1.”
On March 26, 2021, the Second Circuit ruled that a decades-old series of prints created by Andy Warhol depicting music legend Prince infringed the copyrighted photograph by Lynn Goldsmith on which the series was based. Warhol’s series of prints takes Goldsmith’s traditional, black and white portrait of the singer and superimposes it with his signature pop art stylization. Goldsmith did not find out that Warhol had used her image until Prince died in 2016. The court’s decision overturned a district court ruling which declared Warhol’s works legal under the fair use doctrine. But what exactly is the fair use doctrine, and why was it so important in this case? Let’s find out.