Richard Prince is a well-known artist who has been sued for appropriating others’ photos. In an oft-cited previous case, he was sued in the Second Circuit (in New York) for taking photos of indigenous people in Jamaica, and modifying them with such things as guitars placed in their hands.

The Second Circuit found the bulk of these works to be “fair use” , which is a finding that the works were “transformative,” that is, artistically different in content and message. (The case later settled.) The Ninth Circuit has been perhaps a little more restrictive in making such findings, but not by much. In a matter involving the iconic band Green Day, the California-based circuit court found that a concert backdrop containing a copyrighted image with added spray paint also constituted “fair use” due to its transformative nature.

Our hunch is that plaintiff sued here in Southern California (based on photos of Sid Vicious) hoping to get a more favorable forum. Stay tuned.