Liza Batkin in the New York Review of Books:
Two weeks ago, the Supreme Court took a break from wrecking our rights to hear oral arguments in a case about a series of Andy Warhol silkscreen prints of Prince. It was an unusually raucous affair. Justice Kagan ribbed Justice Thomas when he confessed to liking Prince’s music in the 1980s. “No longer?” she asked. “Only on Thursday nights,” he replied. The courtroom erupted with laughter then and a dozen or so other times over the course of the morning. In a term full of proceedings that will imperil voting rights, affirmative action, and democratic elections, perhaps the Court felt it deserved some levity in a case about a pop star and an iconoclast. But the stakes are high here, too. Depending on who you ask, the case has the potential to diminish copyright protections or chill artistic progress.
The dispute arose in 2016 when a rock photographer named Lynn Goldsmith claimed that Warhol had infringed the copyright of a picture she’d taken of Prince when he used it to make several prints. In deciding the case, the Justices will have to clarify when artists can lawfully borrow from copyrighted artworks under a doctrine called fair use.