Legal / Ethical Issue: Rogers v. Koons

In the art world, sometimes it is hard to draw a line in saying what is absolutely copied and what is used simply for inspiration. Often, artists use other artists’ work for inspiration, without the intention to completely copy their work. That was not the case during Rogers v. Koons in which the court ruled that Jeff Koons completely copied Art Rogers’ photograph in his sculpture.

Koons’ sculpture depicted the same image as Art Rogers’ photograph. Koons sold the sculptures for a large profit. Thus, Rogers sued Koons. Koons tried to point out that his sculpture was a parody of the photograph, but, the court rejected this idea. The court ruled that there was a “substantial similarity” in the artworks. Koons was then arranged to a large monetary settlement with Rogers to pay him back, and also sent Rogers a copy of one of the sculptures. This settlement affected the media world in that artists have to be careful in using reference to their artworks. Koons used the photograph as a reference and inspiration for his sculpture, but didn’t bother to switch it up enough to where you wouldn’t be able to recognize the difference between his sculpture and Rogers’ photograph. Thus, this court case was a warning to artists that if they plan on making a profit on their artwork, they must ensure that their work isn’t identical or heavily similar to another, or that they ask for permission first.

“Wonder what happens when artists copy each other? @JeffKoonsStudio v. #Rogers is a great example. See: for more info”

Facebook Post:
“As an artist, you always wonder what’s the difference between inspiration from another artist, and blatantly copying others’ work! After some research, I stumbled upon the court case Roger v. Koons for some answers on what happens when an artist thinks another has copied their work. See what I found out on my blog:”


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