Jeff Koons Defends Copyright Infringement of a Sculptural Work, Claiming “Useful Article” Defense and Fair Use
In 2021, set designer Michael Hayden sued appropriation artist Jeff Koons for copyright infringement arising out of Koons’s use of Hayden’s 1988 sculpture in a 1989 series of artworks titled Made in Heaven. The original sculpture, depicting a serpent wrapped around a rock, was created as a stage prop for adult film star Ilona Staller (former wife of Koons). The infringing works depict Koons and Staller atop the snake sculpture in explicit poses. Hayden claims Koons never asked permission to use the snake sculpture, did not offer to credit him and never applied for a license, and that he was unaware of the claimed infringement until 2019.