FAMED POP artist Jeff Koons and artist Michael Hayden both told a Manhattan federal court on Friday that a recent US Supreme Court decision involving Andy Warhol supports their position in a copyright fight over a stone platform that Koons allegedly misused in his work.
The lawsuit provides one of the first opportunities for a court to clarify how the doctrine of fair use applies in the wake of the Warhol decision.
Representatives for Koons and Hayden did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the briefs.
Hayden said in his 2021 lawsuit that he often designed sets and props for Cicciolina, an Italian porn star and politician whose given name is Ilona Staller, in the 1980s. He said he made a sculpture of a serpent wrapped around a rock for Cicciolina to perform on in 1988.
Koons traveled to Italy in 1989 to be photographed with Staller for his Made in Heaven series. Koons and Staller were married in 1991 and divorced in 1994.
Hayden said works in the series depicting Koons and Staller on the stone bench infringe his copyrights. Koons told the court that his works made fair use of Hayden’s sculpture.
Fair use allows for the use of copyrighted works without the copyright owner’s permission for certain purposes. The Supreme Court said in March that an Andy Warhol painting based on a picture of the rock star Prince did not make fair use of photographer Lynn Goldsmith’s work, focusing largely on the commercial purpose of the Warhol estate’s use.
US District Judge Timothy Reif asked Koons and Hayden in May to explain how the ruling affected their case.
Koons told the court on Friday that his use of the bench as “raw material” for “creative and communicative objectives entirely distinct from plaintiff’s utilitarian purpose of creating a platform for sexually explicit performances” favored a fair-use finding.
Hayden said the decision “shatters” Koons’ defense because the purpose of his use of the sculpture was “exactly the same as Hayden’s original purpose: to serve as a creative set piece on which Ilona Staller would engage in sexually explicit poses and performances.”
The case is Hayden v. Koons, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 1:21-cv-10249. — Reuters