One For The Home Team
Supreme Court Sides with Heirs of Three Stooges
By Sarah Tippit
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Andy Warhol sold prints made
from movie star photographs -- so it never occurred to
veteran portrait artist Gary Saderup that when he sold
drawings of the Three Stooges on T-shirts that he was
breaking the law.
However on Monday no less an authority than the U.S.
Supreme Court said he was.
The court, without comment, sided with the heirs of Larry,
Moe and Curly -- played by several different actors over
the years -- in a dispute with the Los Angeles artist over
his lithographs and T-shirts bearing realistic drawings of
the wacky trio that first became famous in the 1920s.
The justices let stand a California Supreme Court ruling that
an artist must get approval and pay licensing fees to depict
a celebrity -- even if he has been dead for decades -- unless
the new work contains "significant creative elements."
When celebrity drawings are too realistic and are sold
without permission, the California court ruled they violate
heirs' rights to share in profits under the state's right of
While attorneys for the Stooges' heirs said on Monday they
were thrilled with the decision, attorneys for Saderup said
the decision could have grave implications not only for the
First Amendment rights of artists who draw celebrities but
also for celebrity photographers and celebrity impersonators.
"It's unfortunate," said Stephen Burnett, lead counsel
for Saderup. "There's now a taboo for artists and
photographers. They are now on notice that they better
not depict any celebrity or dead celebrity unless it's a
politician or someone else who has news value." He added
the ruling leaves it up to judges to decide what is and isn't
a legitimate work of art.
Posted by: Nancy | Jan 7, 2002 3:49 PM | Comments(0)