Is this art???

So a guy goes on Instagram, takes a screen shot of a random photo that he finds there, replaces the caption with one of his own, enlarges it and places it on the wall of a very well known gallery in NYC, along with 36 more like it. The exhibit sells out, at $90,000 per image.

“Richard Prince, 65, whose New Portraits exhibition consisting of 37 screenshots of Instagram photos sold out at New York Frieze last week, is known for appropriating found images and treads a fine line between copyright infringement and art.

“I don’t see any difference now between what I collect and what I make,” Prince has said.”

Prince successfully side-steps copyright laws by removing the captions on Instagram photographs he has replicated, replacing them with his own.

He began using found images long before the internet gave him the opportunity to scroll through thousands of selfies.

During the 1970s and early 1980s began to re-photograph adverts in magazines, which he described as “social science fiction,” cropping them, removing text, and grouping them by subject.

Prince was sued by another artist Patrick Cariou who said he had stolen his photographs. But the artist won an appeal against the litigation in 2013 and the case became just another footnote in the saga of copyright law versus freedom of expression.


Is there a difference between freedom of expression and flat out stealing? The only problem with this story:

#5 under rights on the Instagram page:

  The Service contains content owned or licensed by Instagram (“Instagram Content”). Instagram Content is protected by copyright, trademark, patent, trade secret and other laws, and, as between you and Instagram, Instagram owns and retains all rights in the Instagram Content and the Service. You will not remove, alter or conceal any copyright, trademark, service mark or other proprietary rights notices incorporated in or accompanying the Instagram Content and you will not reproduce, modify, adapt, prepare derivative works based on, perform, display, publish, distribute, transmit, broadcast, sell, license or otherwise exploit the Instagram Content.


Reporting Copyright and Other IP Violations

  1. We respect other people’s rights, and expect you to do the same.
  2. We provide you with tools to help you protect your intellectual property rights. To learn more about how to report claims of intellectual property infringement, visit:
  3. If you repeatedly infringe other people’s intellectual property rights, we will disable your account when appropriate.

So, what does this all mean? I guess it means that if you put a photo online, people can make $90,000 from it and you get nothing! That’s the internet for ya!!

A couple of years ago, I had a three hour “discussion” on the phone with a woman that was making T Shirts using one of my pictures of Randy Rhoads. She got a 72dpi image off of Flicker, and started making shirts, and selling them on her website. It took me three hours to get her to understand that

  1. I have never been on Flicker
  2. I have never placed any photos on Flicker.
  3. She was infringing on my copyright, and harming the relationship I have with Randy’s estate by continuing

The next day the site was gone. But…It left me thinking about how many of my images were floating around the internet, ready to be stolen by any one who wanted them!!


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