\Partial image of Double Mona Lisa, After Warhol, (Peanut Butter + Jelly) 1999 Full image here
A basic tenet of copyright law is that once a copyright has expired, it enters the public domain, for all to use. But when someone adds a copyrightable contribution to a public domain work, that contribution is copyrightable. So when Andy Warhol made Double Mona Lisa:
Double Mona Lisa (Andy Warhol, 1963)
It is clear that Warhol was using Leonardo Da Vinci's public domain image of the Mona Lisa. He probably took the image from a photograph of of the Mona Lisa. The case law says that exact images of public domain works are not protected by copyright.
But now we see Vik Muniz taking Warhol's arrangement of the "double" Mona Lisa - and putting Warhol's name in the title of the work - part of an ancient artistic tradition. Muniz selects the fine art medium of peanut butter and jelly to execute his work.
Is the borrowing of Warhol's name and arrangement of a PD work ok? Does the selection of peanut butter and jelly drive the transformative nature of the work? And would the answer change if Warhol's work were an entirely original composition NOT based on a public domain work? And does the number of copies matter?
I think Muniz's composition is strikingly original and beautiful masterpiece of 20th Century art.
Some thoughts for Fair Use Friday. Meanwhile, watch the video to see whether scientists now believe that the Mona Lisa was pregnant.