Lynn Goldsmith’s Prince Portrait and its Legacy in Case Law

04/18/2024Link2

For anyone familiar with the photo industry, the mammoth lawsuit between The Andy Warhol Foundation and renowned music photographer Lynn Goldsmith should be no secret. This complex battle over the rights to her 1981 portrait of the artist formerly known as Prince lasted seven years and went all the way to the Supreme Court.

Above photograph © Lynn Goldsmith

But do you know the circumstances behind her original portrait session with the famously reserved musician, and were you aware of all the misinformation about this case that was disseminated in both legal documents and the press?

Lynn is a longtime friend of the show, and our 2017 episode about her extensive, long-term work with the band Kiss, among other crazy stories, was a fan favorite. We invited her back to discuss this case in 2022, when the Supreme Court first agreed to hear it, but heeding the advice of her legal counsel she wisely declined our offer at that time.

In May 2023, the Supreme Court ultimately ruled in Lynn’s favor in a 7-2 decision, which has already been shown to benefit others seeking remedies for the misuse of their creative works.

Yet, while this landmark decision happened last year, the case itself was not officially resolved until very recently—Friday, March 15, 2024, to be exact—a day some might recognize as the Ides of March.

Now that the final resolution has been signed, sealed, and delivered, we felt it was a perfect opportunity for Lynn to give us a recap of this David vs Goliath battle, with all its complexities and underlying bias.

From details about the Fair Use doctrine, to the matter of copyright registration, to her thoughts about the current photographer community, to the importance of standing up for one’s rights, Lynn provides a clear and insightful assessment of one of the most traumatic and threatening experiences that any independent artist can face, as only she can.

To her very core, Lynn believes creativity can make anything possible, an ideology she sums up aptly at the end of our chat.

“I felt like some higher power picked me for this,” she says. “And that I had to make myself feel like a 1940s film with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, where there was going to be a happy ending, that everything would work out just fine, and that I was going to prevail.”

Guest: Lynn Goldsmith

Lynn Goldsmith in boxing gloves portrait from her GoFundMe Campaign
Lynn Goldsmith in boxing gloves portrait from her GoFundMe Campaign
Page 1 of court filing in case of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc., v Lynn Goldsmith
Page 1 of court filing in case of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc., v Lynn Goldsmith
Page 7 of court filing in case of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc., v Lynn Goldsmith
Page 7 of court filing in case of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc., v Lynn Goldsmith
Lynn Goldsmith’s 1981 portrait of Prince
Lynn Goldsmith’s 1981 portrait of Prince
Page 8 of court filing in case of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc., v Lynn Goldsmith
Page 8 of court filing in case of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc., v Lynn Goldsmith
Page 9 of court filing in case of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc., v Lynn Goldsmith
Page 9 of court filing in case of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc., v Lynn Goldsmith
Portrait of Lynn Goldsmith and her legal team in front of the Supreme Court
Portrait of Lynn Goldsmith and her legal team in front of the Supreme Court
Joint Motion for Entry of Final Judgment in case of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc., v Lynn Goldsmith
Joint Motion for Entry of Final Judgment in case of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc., v Lynn Goldsmith
Lynn Goldsmith selfie in front of the Supreme Court
Lynn Goldsmith selfie in front of the Supreme Court

Episode Timeline:

  • 2:50: The backstory to Lynn Goldsmith’s 1981 photo session with Prince.
  • 7:17: Shooting both color and black-and-white in the days of film, a separate camera for each option.
  • 11:15: Vanity Fair’s 1984 use of Lynn’s black and white portrait for artist reference.
  • 13:47: Lynn’s discovery of the original image use after Prince died in 2016.
  • 19:50: The value of saving detailed records of licensing agreements for future reference.
  • 23:14: The preemptive lawsuit the Andy Warhol Foundation filed against Lynn, and the misinformation contained in the Federal court filing.
  • 32:15: Lynn discusses the Fair Use doctrine and the matter of copyright registration in relation to her case.
  • 36:43: Episode Break
  • 38:04: Meeting with the Andy Warhol Foundation and the deal on offer to resolve the lawsuit.
  • 44:40: Lynn’s thoughts about the current photographer community and the importance of standing up for your rights.
  • 48:09: The multiple rounds of the Prince portrait lawsuit, from the first Federal case to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals to the Supreme Court.
  • 56:29: Uneven reporting about the lawsuit in the press, with the photo press being fearful to write anything, and the art press releasing misinformation without fact checks.
  • 1:00:27: Behind the scenes at the Supreme Court hearing, the effects of the 7 – 2 decision, as well as Justice Kagan’s written opinion.
  • 1:08:48: Lynn’s thoughts about generative AI.

Guest Bio: Lynn Goldsmith is a multi-awarded portrait photographer whose work has appeared on and in between the covers of top magazines worldwide. Her subjects have varied from entertainment to sports, film directors to authors, and from top celebrities to the ordinary man on the street. Her forty years of photography are both an investigation into the nature of the human spirit, as well as the natural wonders of our planet. As the author of 12 major photo books, Lynn’s images are also featured in numerous museum collections, yet her professional achievements are in no way limited to the world of photography. She is the youngest member ever accepted into the Director's Guild of America (DGA), where she achieved several firsts—from the first rock show on network television to the first music documentary released as a theatrical short, and more. In the mid-seventies, Lynn stopped directing to concentrate fully on photography.

By the early 80s, she departed from both photography and film, to become the first ‘optic-music’ artist. Using the a.k.a. Will Powers, she produced the album "Dancing for Mental Health" on Island Records. Her debut album won critical acclaim and her single, Kissing with Confidence, reached #3 on the British charts.

The wide range of Lynn's talents, skills and achievements are products of a belief she holds constant: Creativity is based on breaking limiting thought patterns, thus making anything possible.

Stay Connected:

Lynn Goldsmith’s Website: https://lynngoldsmith.com/menu.html
Rock and Roll Photo Gallery Website: https://rockandrollphotogallery.com/
Lynn Goldsmith’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lynngoldsmith/
Lynn Goldsmith’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/goldsmithphoto
Lynn Goldsmith’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lynngoldsmithartist/
Lynn Goldsmith’s YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/@lynn-goldsmith/
Lynn Goldsmith’s GoFundMe campaign: https://www.gofundme.com/
Lynn Goldsmith’s Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lynn_Goldsmith
Pelican 1510TP Carry-On Case: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/

2 Comments

Thank you so much Jill, for this episode. It's amazing. I've had a great time listening to it!

Thanks for writing in to let us know, Chana Esther. We're so glad to hear you're enjoying the episode!

Thanks for writing in to let us know, Chana Esther. We're so glad to hear you're enjoying the episode!