Blanch v. Koons
United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
467 F.3d 244 (2d Cir. 2006)
Andrea Blanch (plaintiff) was a photographer for fashion magazines. Blanch photographed a woman’s lower legs and feet on top of a man’s lap in an airplane cabin for a cosmetics spread in Allure magazine. Blanch stated that her goal of the photo was to “show some sort of erotic sense[;] . . . to get . . . more of a sexuality to the photographs.” Jeff Koons was a visual artist who used Blanch’s photo as part of a template for a painting. Koons removed the background from Blanch’s photo, including the man’s lap and the airplane backdrop. Koons also slightly altered the parts of the photo that he kept: he inverted the orientation of the legs, added a heel to one of the feet (that was hidden in the man’s lap in the original photo), changed the coloring, and changed the medium. Koons’s painting featured the legs from Blanch’s photo as well as three other sets of women’s legs dangling over a series of desserts with a grassy field and Niagara Falls in the background. Koons stated that his template was an attempt to “comment on the ways in which some of our most basic appetites—for food, play, and sex—are mediated by popular images.” Koons also stated the following: “The [Blanch] photograph is typical of a certain style of mass communication. Images almost identical to them can be found in almost any glossy magazine, as well as in other media.” Blanch brought a copyright infringement suit against Koons. Blanch testified that Koons’s use of her photo did not cause any harm to her career, and she did not state that she had ever licensed her photos for use by artists. The district court found that Koons’s appropriation of Blanch’s photo was fair use. Blanch appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Sack, J.)
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