Copyright Alliance Applauds SCOTUS Decision in Warhol v. Goldsmith Case

May 18, 2023

Contact: Eileen Bramlet

Washington, DC—In response to today’s U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) decision in Andy Warhol Foundation v. Goldsmith, Copyright Alliance CEO Keith Kupferschmid issued the following statement in support of the Court’s ruling:

“Today’s landmark decision in the copyright case of Warhol v. Goldsmith reaffirms the Supreme Court’s and the copyright community’s longstanding views on the appropriate application and scope of the transformative use doctrine.

“The Court’s decision reins in renegade lower courts that over the years have expanded the transformative use doctrine to make it the most influential element of the fair use test. By determining that Warhol’s prints were non-transformative as a matter of law because they did not have a ‘fundamentally different and new’ artistic purpose from Goldsmith’s photo as a work of visual art, the Court made it clear that all four fair use factors must be analyzed and considered, and that transformative use determinations do not control the fair use analysis. In fact, the Court went even further by explaining that transformative use doesn’t even control the first fair use factor because it must be balanced with the commercial nature of the use. 

“Today’s decision does not represent a change in the law, but rather it clarifies how the Court intended lower courts to interpret its transformative use test as first set forth by the Court in the Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music over 25 years ago. The court explained that its decision is consistent with longstanding principles of fair use and will not “snuff out the light of Western civilization, returning us to the Dark Ages of a world without Titian, Shakespeare, or Richard Rodgers” as some have claimed.

“The Court’s decision also sent several messages to AI developers and others who may think that the transformative use doctrine gives them a free pass to use copyrighted works without permission or compensation. Instead, the Court noted that simply characterizing a secondary use as innovative or creative progress is not sufficient justification to be transformative.”



The Copyright Alliance is a non-profit, non-partisan public interest and educational organization representing the copyright interests of 2 million individual creators and 15,000 organizations in the United States, across the spectrum of copyright disciplines. The Copyright Alliance is dedicated to advocating policies that promote and preserve the value of copyright, and to protecting the rights of creators and innovators. For more information, please visit our website.