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Abstract

In May 2011, a federal district court issued a ruling that shocked the art world. In a copyright infringement action against prominent artist Richard Prince, Judge Deborah Batts of the Southern District of New York dispensed the art world equivalent of the death penalty: an injunction requiring that artworks be "deliver[ed] up for impounding, destruction, or other disposition." The condemned works-a series of Prince collages titled "Canal Zone"-contained photographs from Yes, Rasta, a book of portraits of Jamaican Rastafarians by the photographer Patrick Cariou. Prince had cut out images from the book and painted over them, combining them in his collages with other original and found images. The court held that by using images from Yes, Rasta, Prince infringed Cariou's copyrights, and his work did not qualify for the fair use defense.

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