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12-06-2015, 09:16 AM   #1
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The Richest Photographer in the World

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In early 2014, renowned painter and photographer Richard Prince picked up his iPhone and began scrolling through other people’s photos on Instagram.

When the 66-year-old would find a picture to his liking -- usually a selfie taken by a young, scantily-clad female -- he’d leave a comment (something like, "Don't du anything. Just B Urself © ®") then save a screenshot to his phone. Eventually, the artist hand-picked 37 of these screenshots, ink jetted them, unmodified, onto 6-by-4 foot canvases, and titled the series “New Portraits.”

Several months later, Prince’s collection of others’ Instagram photos adorned the pristine, white walls of a Madison Avenue art gallery. On opening night, art critics and New York socialites debated the complexities of contemporary art between toasts of expensive champagne. The images went on to sell at auction for $90,000 a piece.



12-06-2015, 09:41 AM   #2
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It says he's been doing this kind of thing for 40 years. You'd think someone would have taken him to court by now. But defending your intellectual property can be expensive and I think too often "might-is-right" where the deeper pockets win.
12-06-2015, 12:54 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by interested_observer Quote
http://priceonomics.com/the-richest-photographer-in-the-world/

Interesting article. Appropriation art - who knew? I've never heard of the topic before, though I have seen one of the huge paintings of a Campbell soup can. To be honest, though, when I saw it I did not think of stealing; I thought "he's famous and hanging in a prestigious art gallery for painting a soup can really big - why didn't I think of that?"

QuoteOriginally posted by dcshooter Quote
There is no way these fall under the fair use exceptions under US copyright law

According to the article, in a US court of law, there apparently IS a way, surprising as it may seem. It never ceases to amaze me that what appears to be an open and shut, clear cut case to one party is very much ambiguous and debatable to another party.

QuoteOriginally posted by dcshooter Quote
I imagine attorneys would be lining up to file a group action against him on contingency

Not being an attorney, I probably don't appreciate exactly how attorneys operate, but I'd have to theorize that lawyers, like the rest of us, weigh the relative likelihood of success before undertaking a course of action. I wonder if the courts' actions have caused the lawyers to hesitate on these kinds of cases.
12-06-2015, 12:57 PM - 1 Like   #4
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Galleries need to not give wall space to parasites like Richard Prince

12-06-2015, 01:17 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by dcshooter Quote
For a cut of the $3.3 million he sold the works for, I imagine attorneys would be lining up to file a group action against him on contingency.
As I understand copyrights here in the US, is that the original photographer should have registered their images with the US Copyright Office within 90 days of their initial publication on Instagram. By not doing that they loose their ability to sue for statutory damages and legal fees, limiting their loss to their initial license fee - which since they were published on IG for essentially nothing - say $100 would be nominal. So, essentially there is very little to sue for and no copyright attorney is going to take a contingency case for 1/2 or 1/3 of nothing.

I noticed that he - Prince, would copyright his phrases i.e., "Don't du anything. Just B Urself © ®". I bet the phrases / "modified" images were registered BEFORE, he hit the send button to comment on them on IG.

But going back to the original thought, even if they had registered their copyright on the original un-enhanced image, Prince is slightly modifying them, and call them his own. So, I doubt that the original unaltered image enters into the “transformative” argument to any great extent.

Not bad money...

12-06-2015, 11:30 PM   #6
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Richard Prince: Pervert, Troll, Genius -- Vulture
12-07-2015, 01:02 AM   #7
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I heard about this creep some time ago (possibly on this Forum!)
He was taken to court and WON.
12-07-2015, 02:04 AM - 1 Like   #8
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Yeah, my five year old could have done that! Why Your Five Year Old Could Not Have Done That: Modern Art Explained: Amazon.co.uk: Susie Hodge: 9780500290477: Books :-)

I think it is remarkable that the discussion here could have been framed in several ways, but here - on a forum where I would like to think there was a few souls interested in photography as an art form - every comment is about legal matters. My claim is this: You guys know more about the laws than the history, themes and motivations of art. I often feel like an outcast on this forum, because my interest was in the arts first and photography second.

Anyway, if anybody is interested Richard Prince writes about his position in articles and on his blog. I am not a fan of his - actually far from -, but dismissing the whole thing without spending 10 minutes to look into things is, well ...

12-07-2015, 05:50 AM - 1 Like   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by H. Sapiens Quote
Yeah, my five year old could have done that! Why Your Five Year Old Could Not Have Done That: Modern Art Explained: Amazon.co.uk: Susie Hodge: 9780500290477: Books :-)

I think it is remarkable that the discussion here could have been framed in several ways, but here - on a forum where I would like to think there was a few souls interested in photography as an art form - every comment is about legal matters. My claim is this: You guys know more about the laws than the history, themes and motivations of art. I often feel like an outcast on this forum, because my interest was in the arts first and photography second.

Anyway, if anybody is interested Richard Prince writes about his position in articles and on his blog. I am not a fan of his - actually far from -, but dismissing the whole thing without spending 10 minutes to look into things is, well ...
I think the comments on here are more about ethics than about legal matters. People tend to get agitated over what they see as unethical behaviour, and even more so when someone not only gets away with such behaviour but also gets well paid in the process.

As for art, I really struggle to see how appropriated art in its "purest" form is art at all. Unless blatant theft is an art form, of course.

In music, sampling of other musicians' work is not accepted in the same way, not even when heavily reworked. Should mr. Prince decide to become a composer and musician, I'd expect him to record a concert on his phone and sell the result as his own composition and performance.
12-07-2015, 06:26 AM   #10
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Theft? Well, none of "misused" subjects lost anything - as far as I know they are all using social media actively in order to promote their career as dj, model, whatever. Some of them are already minor celebrities. The images are only valuable because of being curated by R. Prince and a high end gallery. The smarter of them have gained from it, I'm sure.

Frankly, if people want to get agitated about ethical behaviour I'll say they are bigger fish to fry :-) I think the answer lies in social psychology - we hate to see guys benefitting from something we feel they didn't earn.
12-07-2015, 06:36 AM   #11
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Smart man, but hardly the world richest photographer.... not even close.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_most_expensive_photographs
12-07-2015, 06:39 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by H. Sapiens Quote
Theft? Well, none of "misused" subjects lost anything - as far as I know they are all using social media actively in order to promote their career as dj, model, whatever. Some of them are already minor celebrities. The images are only valuable because of being curated by R. Prince and a high end gallery. The smarter of them have gained from it, I'm sure.
Well, if the industry sees my copying of music or films for personal use as theft, why isn't this? I do have a real problem with seeing the difference. Other than the fact that I don't do it for profit...

QuoteQuote:
Frankly, if people want to get agitated about ethical behaviour I'll say they are bigger fish to fry :-) I think the answer lies in social psychology - we hate to see guys benefitting from something we feel they didn't earn.
This is pretty much what I meant with "People tend to get agitated over what they see as unethical behaviour, and even more so when someone not only gets away with such behaviour but also gets well paid in the process."

But yes, I agree that we have far worse problems in the world, ethical or otherwise - and raging over them here hardly makes much of a difference
12-07-2015, 06:53 AM   #13
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to some people 'ethical" means, "things i find personally distasteful." I tend to think of this in terms of little girls saying "ewwwww" when they see dog poop. That's not anything to do with ethics. What are the ethical "considerations" here? Did the man cause his subject any harm? Did he show them in a light they would find "distasteful". Did he make public something that wasn't for public consumption? If I throw a 100 dollar bill on the sidewalk and someone picks it up and spends it, are they a thief, or are they within their rights to assume if I threw it on the sidewalk, I wanted them to have it.? I'm curious as to what the ethical argument would be? You can hardly say the man did nothing. He spent hours on social media compiling these images. And he definitely owns copyright to the text he posted with the images, so that part of the image isn't even in question. I would assume that these images have some degree of posterization from the effect of taking small images and printing them really large. SO it may be like Andy Warhol's polaroids, that there is a campy artistic merit to his work. Something that seems to be lacking in the discussion here to date.

I'm beginning to get the impression, that a lot or the discussion is engineers and lawyers discussing art, and that is a painful thing to listen to. I mean it's completely distasteful, was in "eeewwww", and probably unethical as well.
12-07-2015, 07:00 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
Smart man, but hardly the world richest photographer.... not even close.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_most_expensive_photographs
He's hit financial success at a younger age than many of the others on that list. Steichen was 127 when he sold "The Pond—Moonlight" for the big bucks, Stieglitz was 142 at the time of his big sales. A little old to fully enjoy their windfalls, but it's nice knowing they'll be able to retire in comfort- most artists aren't so lucky.
12-07-2015, 07:10 AM - 1 Like   #15
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The man is a graphic artist, calling him a photographer might be bit of a stretch. He didn't take the pictures he sells, unless you consider a screen cap to be photography. There are just so many things wrong with this approach. Most amateur photographers have the equipment, but no artistic vision. It's the artistic vision that is important, not the equipment.

This man has that in spades.

That others might be jealous... ya, well IBM handed Bill Gates an OS to develop for next to nothing, it doesn't matter what people do, others who don't understand the process, the risk, etc. always assume the guy got something for nothing. People want to judge, but they don't want to know. That's just sad.
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