Rogers V Koons. No. 234, 388 and 235. United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit. 2 Apr. 1992.
This is the 2nd Circuit's appellate ruling on Rogers v Koons. The introduction states that the "key" to the suit "brought by a plaintiff photographer against a defendant sculptor and the gallery representing him, is defendants' borrowing of plaintiff's expression of a typical American scene — a smiling husband and wife holding a litter of charming puppies." It calls the copying deliberate goes on to give the background facts of the case. It first describes Rogers' work and reputation, followed by an account of how the "Puppies" photograph was created. It then does the same for Koons and the creation of "String of Puppies." It goes back over the "prior proceedings," giving the history of litigation between the two parties and affirms the district court initial ruling.
Moving on to the discussion section, the court eleaborates on the ownership of copyright in an original work of art, which Rogers has, discusses unauthorized copying by defendant, which Koons is held guilty of, and defines the fair use doctrine. It then enumerates the four criteria required to satisfactorily pass as fair use. Under the Purpose and Character of Use criterion, the court says, "Relevant to this issue is Koons' conduct, especially his action in tearing the copyright mark off of a Rogers notecard prior to sending it to the Italian artisans. This action suggests bad faith in defendant's use of plaintiff's work, and militates against a finding of fair use." Essentially, they are saying that he was underhanded about his method of copying. As far as Parody or Satire as Fair Use is concerned, the court says "that even given that "String of Puppies" is a satirical critique of our materialistic society, it is difficult to discern any parody of the photograph "Puppies" itself." They argue that Koons was motivated more by profit than satire. The court also holds that Koons copied far more of Puppies than necessary to convey his point. "Koons went well beyond the factual subject matter of the photograph to incorporate the very expression of the work created by Rogers," says the court. Lastly, the court orders that the effect of the use on the market value of the original has been harmed, and "there is simply nothing in the record to support a view that Koons produced "String of Puppies" for anything other than sale as high-priced art. Hence, the likelihood of future harm to Rogers' photograph is presumed, and plaintiff's market for his work has been prejudiced."
Blanch V Koons. No. 05-6433-Cv. UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SECOND CIRCUIT. 26 Oct. 2006.
This is the judgment on the appeal for the Koons v Blanch case with the opinion of Judge Sack. The appeals court rules that Koons’ work was indeed a fair use. Koons was commissioned by the Deutsche Bank and Guggenheim Foundation to create a painting, “Niagra” in which he used Blanch’s “Silk Sandals by Gucci” ad. The court gives background on Koons’ life and work, saying that he is “known for incorporating into his artwork objects and images taken from popular media and consumer advertising, a practice that has been referred to as "neo-Pop art" or (perhaps unfortunately in a legal context) "appropriation art."” It describes both Koons’ painting and Blanch’s photograph and Koons’ use of the photograph in his painting. The two artists’ economic gains and losses are then detailed: Niagra has been appraised at $1 million, while Blanch was paid $750 for her work.
In meeting the criteria for fair use, the court finds Koons’ work transformative, saying it “adds something new, with a further purpose or different character, altering the first with new expression, meaning, or message." The court ignores the effect of commercial use because Blanch admits that Koons’ work did nothing to detract from any financial gains Silk Sandals brought her. It does, they say, meet the requirement for parody: “Koons's use of a slick fashion photograph enables him to satirize life as it appears when seen through the prism of slick fashion photography.” Bad faith is cited as the last criteria of fair use. Here the ruling holds that Koons only exhibited bad faith in not first asking Blanch’s permission to use her photo. What I wonder, though, is whether than would have made any difference to her. The other major reason that Koons’ work is said to be acceptable is that he uses only a portion of Blanch’s image, and places that portion with other elements that are not part of her photo, thereby substantially transforming it. In conclusion, the court rules "promoting the Progress of Science and useful Arts," U.S. Const., art. I, § 8, cl. 8, would be better served by allowing Koons's use of "Silk Sandals" than by preventing it.”