Shepard Fairey Sues Associated Press Over Obama Poster
By Dave Itzkoff
Shepard Fairey, the visual artist who created the iconic “Hope” poster of Barack Obama, has filed suit against The Associated Press, according to court documents. Last week, The A.P. said in a statement that the poster, based on an A.P. photograph taken by Mannie Garcia in April 2006, requires its permission for use of the image, and that it is seeking credit and compensation for its use in Mr. Fairey’s works. In the suit, filed in United States District Court in New York, lawyers for Mr. Fairey are seeking a declaratory judgment which would rule that Mr. Fairey’s poster does not infringe on The A.P.’s copyrights and is protected by the Fair Use Doctrine. The complaint also seeks an injunction enjoining The A.P. from asserting its copyrights against Mr. Fairey, his company, Obey Giant, and anyone in possession of the poster or works derived from it, as well as a jury trial.
Also, here's a clear run-down of why AP hasn't got a case against Fairey in the first place:
The AP Has No Case Against Shepard Fairey
By Jonathan Melber
Co-author of ART/WORK: Everything You Need to Know (And Do) As You Pursue Your Art Career. Posted February 8, 2009 | 10:36 PM (EST)
A few days ago, the Associated Press announced that Obama's famous HOPE poster amounts to copyright infringement. The artist behind the poster, Shepard Fairey, has never hidden the fact that he based his iconic creation on a photograph he found through Google. The AP thinks it owns the copyright to that photograph, since Mannie Garcia was freelancing for the AP when he shot it. With posters sold out, a special edition in the National Portrait Gallery, and major exhibitions in New York and Boston, the AP wants in on the windfall.
But the AP would very likely lose this case if it ever ended up in court. That's because, under copyright law, Fairey's work almost certainly qualifies as "fair use" of Garcia's photograph.
The term "fair use" gets batted around a lot, often incorrectly, and so deserves some explanation. At the most general level, copyright law prohibits you from copying another person's original creative work. That means you're typically not allowed to create work using someone else's original unless you pay that person. "Fair use" is an exception to this rule: it says that sometimes you don't have to pay someone to use his or her original work. Whether you do--that is, whether your new work qualifies as "fair use"--depends on what, exactly, the original work is, how much of it you're using, how you transform it, and whether your new work hurts the commercial market for the original. (Note that the issue has nothing to do with whether anyone thinks your use is "fair.")
By far the most important factor is how you transform the original work--but, contrary to popular belief, the transformation that really matters is the conceptual one, not the physical one. [read on...]
Artist Sues the A.P. Over Obama Image
By RANDY KENNEDY
Published: February 9, 2009
In a pre-emptive strike, the street artist Shepard Fairey filed a lawsuit on Monday against The Associated Press, asking a federal judge to declare that he is protected from copyright infringement claims in his use of a news photograph as the basis for a now ubiquitous campaign poster image of President Obama.