Shepard Fairey Sues AP Over Obama Poster Dispute!

Fairey says the Associated Press image at left, by Mannie Garcia, was the basis for his Obama poster illustration, but that its use falls under the Fair Use Provision.

Fairey says the Associated Press image at left, by Mannie Garcia, was the basis for his Obama poster illustration, but that its use falls under the Fair Use Provision.

Now Shepard Fairey wants to sue AP Over Obama Poster Dispute.

Shortly after the AP accused Shephard Fairey, the artist behind the famous Obama poster, of infringing copyright, Fairey struck back, filed the suit February 9 in U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York.

The new development caught many a surprise and it’s interesting to read. and I would like to post some of the  comments from PDN here.

Joel – Los Angeles / February 12, 2009
Fairey is a vandal, a tagger, and a thief, and IMHO an infringer. Fairey was arrested a few days ago, yet again, for tagging in Boston. Fairey has boasted that he’s been arrested “over 14 times” for tagging and other vandalism, much of it involving stenciling or posting his own “art” on private and public property. In addition to other arrests. Fairey knew that he could have used any of thousands of photos in the public domain, including those offered on Hussein Obama’s own website. Many are indistinguishable from the infringed (cropped) AP image. Perhaps Fairey is incapable of grasping the concept of honesty, or respecting other people’s rights. Fairey is, though, a pretty accomplished hypocrite. Having created his posters through infringement, he has already threatened people who were trying to sell derivative copies of the poster on their own.


Posted by: B Finger | February 05, 2009 at 02:41 PM

I think Fairey has a pretty strong case for “fair use” here. His art work uses and is in part a commentary about popular culture and popular cultural imagery. It was originally produced to be “street art” where profit was not the original motive. It was only when Obama supporters discovered a posting of the artwork (posted by Fairey as a freebie in support of Obama, I believe) on the internet and printed out copies for themselves, did it take off as a popular image. Even though his painting and subsequent posters were based upon the AP photo it could never be mistaken for it and would never be in competition with it in the market place.


Posted by: David | February 12, 2009 at 01:21 PM

Regarding Carl’s lengthy February 10 attempt at analyzing copyright law, “I find the Fairey case fascinating, as I have studied copyright law quite a bit.” Please, Carl, remember the old adage that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

I am a copyright attorney in Chicago and former photographer. Let me first comment that you appear to be mixing the legal definition of “original” as used in copyright law and as used in an artistic sense. It’s easy to do, but it makes your argument confusing. Continue reading comments of Carl and David about the lawsuit from PDN

Related article: “Hope” Obama poster-Does the AP have a case? Infringement or fair use?


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