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article imageArtist sells other peoples' Instagram photos for $100k in NYC

By James Walker     May 23, 2015 in Lifestyle
An artist is exhibiting and selling other peoples' Instagram photos without permission in New York City right now. With prices reaching as much as $100k, the story is drawing controversy and criticism as a copyright loophole means it could all be legal.
The "artist" Richard Prince has drawn controversy in art circles before for his heavy usage of other peoples' work in his own exhibits. This time, he is making screenshots of Instagram posts, turning them into full-size prints and selling them for $100,000 at the Gagosian Gallery in New York City.
Titled "New Portraits," the show may initially seem to be simple plagiarism but it is actually harder to pin down. Because Prince includes the Instagram interface and comments on the photo in his print, it is not actually the same as the photographer's original upload.
This means that the work can be compared to that of an author quoting another writer in a book — Prince is adapting source material to use in his own works. He "amends" the work by adding his own comments, often just an emoji. Prince has achieved victory in several copyright lawsuits in the past because of his "fair use" claims.
Many people have argued that it is still theft however. Prince did not contact any of the "featured" Instagram users before taking a screenshot of their photo and is now making hundreds of thousands from his activities. The Daily Dot notes that photos by several notable figures including Kate Moss and Pamela Anderson are on display.
One featured post was originally taken by DoeDeere. In a move that almost replicates what Prince himself is doing, DoeDeere uploaded an image of her photo in the gallery to Instagram earlier this week. It includes a lengthy caption that states "No, I did not give my permission" but concludes "No, I'm not gonna go after him. And nope, I have no idea who ended up with it!"
The "New Portraits" exhibition was held at New York's Gagosian Gallery last year but the paintings are only being sold this weekend. No challenge has been filed against him in a court yet but based on his previous encounters with the law it seems likely that he would escape under "fair use" terms, whilst still retaining his controversy which has drawn both passionate supporters and sworn enemies.
More about Artist, instagram, Photo, Plagiarism, Copyright
 
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