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Shepard Fairey Versus the Associated Press

02.11.09   |   Posted in: Art & Design   |   By: A. Salem Jones
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The reference photo for Shepard Fairey’s Obama poster has been identified and the Associated Press claims it wants to get paid. The photo was shot in 2006 by photographer Mannie Garcia. Shepard preemptively filed a lawsuit attempting to protect himself from copyright infringement claims. While we’re no legal experts and we’re sympathetic to the photographer’s work, we think Shepard’s got this one. A catalyst for the legal feud may have been the acquisition of a related work by the National Portrait Gallery in Washington. It was purchased for an undisclosed amount of money.

This is not Shepard Fairey’s first encounter with the legal system. He has been arrested many times (most recently last Friday in Boston). By our estimation, he’s been arrested about fifteen times.

Photographer Mannie Garcia was very gracious. “I don’t condone people taking things, just because they can, off the Internet,” Mr. Garcia said. “But in this case I think it’s a very unique situation. If you put all the legal stuff away, I’m so proud of the photograph and that Fairey did what he did artistically with it, and the effect it’s had.”

-Via New York Times

7 Responses to “Shepard Fairey Versus the Associated Press”

  1. Kellis Says:

    This is not about whether or not this qualifies as art or a unique work. This is about AP lawyers trying to get paid.

  2. Toshi Jones Says:

    I think it is interesting that the legal issue only comes up now after the original mixed media piece was sold. During the run up to the election, all of the proceeds of the sales of screened prints went to the Obama campaign. Wouldn’t it have looked bad for the AP to bring suit while the image was being used to promote a candidate. The timing really says it all.

  3. Alex Jones Says:

    Article at the Huffington Post article about why Shepard has this legal battle won from an intellectual property law standpoint.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jonathan-melber/the-ap-hase-no-case-again_b_165068.html

  4. akrokdesign Says:

    great article, alex. “fair use” who know?! :-)

  5. Neu Black Says:

    Steven Colbert had the director of the Whitney Museum and a lawyer on his show last night to talk about who’s right in this case. In the end they both agreed it was Shepard Fairey.

  6. Alex Jones Says:

    a video excerpt of the Colbert Report has been added above into the post. A direct link is below

    http://www.hulu.com/watch/57787/the-colbert-report-obama-poster-debate—david-ross-and-ed-colbert

  7. Neu Black » Blog Archive » Shepard Fairey to AP: My bad Says:

    [...] will officially step down once new council can be obtained. It seems Shep will still pursue his case against the AP, in which he contends he has the right to fair use of the image as it was fundamentally transformed [...]

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