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There's a great scene from the deposition of artist Richard Prince as described in Randy Kennedy's New York Times story today that shows that sometimes art and law don't do so well together. Prince has been sued for using Patrick Cariou's photographs of Rastafarians without permission in collages and paintings that ended up selling for quite a lot of money. The Times story uses Prince's appeal to tell a broad tale of the blurriness of borrowing, fair use, and transformative work brought on by the internet and the generation of artists that came of age with it. But we particularly enjoyed the conversation between Prince and a lawyer during a deposition:

[L]awyers for Mr. Cariou follow Mr. Prince deep into the strange and often trackless territory of artistic intention. About as close as they get to pinning him down is that he wanted to use the borrowed pictures to explore his fascination with the painting of Willem de Kooning and also thought of his collages and paintings as part of an idea for a movie about a post-apocalyptic world in which Rastafarians, famous literary lesbians and others commandeer hotels on St. Bart’s.

“So what are four lesbians from the early 20th century doing on St. Bart’s in, now, when there’s a nuclear war, like why are they there?” a lawyer asked Mr. Prince, who responded: “Your guess is as good as mine. That’s what I do, I make things up.”

We love imagining the corporate setting for this conversation on "literary lesbians." It's a scene that, above all, seems to encapsulate the complications with copyright law: Lawyers and artists sometimes just don't speak the same language. We definitely recommend reading the rest of it over at the Times.

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