Artist Profiting off of other People’s Instagram photos

Earlier this week, the Washington Post published an article about the Richard Prince Exhibit at the Frieze Art Fair in New York City. In his exhibit, Prince enlarged screenshots of Instagram posts by other people.  Then, he sold all the artwork with some individual pieces going for $90,000.

Apparently, the proceeds are not going to the original Instagram poster.  One of the original Instagram posters stated that she did not give express permission to Prince to duplicate her work.  That being said, did the original poster have the right to exclusive use of her photo regardless of whether or not it was posted on social media?  Would the same Instagram photo have been sold for as much as it did if it was sold by the original poster?  Keep these rhetorical questions in mind the next time you post a photo on your social media feed.

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