By Barry Werbin
The famous appropriation artist Jeff Koons didn't have U.S. copyright "fair use" to try and hide behind in this significant French copyright case. In late February 2021, a French appellate court affirmed a lower court's decision holding Koons and the Centre Pompidou liable for copyright infringement. A French photographer, Frank Davidovici, sued in 2015, alleging that Koons had copied a photo created by Davidovici for an advertising campaign he produced for the clothing brand Naf-Naf in 1985. Koons had created a sculpture (called "Fait d'hiver") in 1988, depicting a woman lying in snow next to a pig wearing a ring of roses and a barrel around its neck, with penguins nearby. Davidovici's photo also depicted a female model lying in the snow in a similar position with a pig wearing a barrel around its neck (Koons added flowers and the penguin). Davidovici first saw Koons' sculpture in a 2014 catalog for Koons' retrospective show, which opened at the Whitney in NYC and later traveled to the Centre Pompidou in France. In 2018, a Parisian court found in favor of Davidovici and awarded him damages of approximately $153,000. The appellate court not only affirmed the infringement ruling, but increased the damages to approximately $231,000.