The premise of the book was achingly simple: a reproduction of the first edition of The Catcher In The Rye, identical in every way except the author’s name was swapped from J.D. Salinger to Richard Prince. The production value of the book was astonishingly high, a perfect facsimile of the original, right down to the thick, creamy paper stock and classic typeface. The text on the dust jacket—replete with the same iconic line drawing of the angry red horse—began, “Anyone who has read Richard Prince’s New Yorker stories, particularly A Perfect Day for Bananafish, Uncle Wiggly in Connecticut, The Laughing Man, and For Esmé–with Love and Squalor, will not be surprised by the fact that his first novel is full of children.” It was a dead-ringer through and through —not a word was changed—with the exception that the following disclaimer was added to the colophon page: “This is an artwork by Richard Prince. Any similarity to a book is coincidental and not intended by the artist.” Most shockingly, the colophon concluded with: © Richard Prince.
"Richard Prince’s Latest Act of Appropriation: The Catcher in the Rye" by Kenneth Goldsmith
In the case of John Wiley & Sons, Inc. v. Supap Kirtsaeng, the court has held that the “First Sale” doctrine in copyright law – which allows libraries to lend books and consumers to resell the books they buy – applies only to works that were manufactured in the United States. In an earlier case (Costco v. Omega, which was affirmed by an evenly divided Supreme Court) the Ninth Circuit had ruled that first sale did not apply if a work was manufactured and sold abroad, but the Second Circuit went much further. In last week’s ruling they decided that first sale did not apply even when the work manufactured abroad was sold in the U.S. with the authorization of the copyright holder. Thus they have created the anomalous situation where a rights holder enjoys the full protection of U.S. law, but consumers who buy the work do not have the advantage of a basic rule for their protection.
the deal constructs a world in which control can be exercised at the level of a page, and maybe even a quote. it is a world in which every bit, every published word, could be licensed. it is the opposite of the old slogan about nuclear power: every bit gets metered, because metering is so cheap. we begin to sell access to knowledge the way we sell access to a movie theater, or a candy store, or a baseball stadium.