via Bloomberg News:
By Erik Larson
July 13 (Bloomberg) -- The Associated Press, which sued artist Shepard Fairey for using an AP photograph as inspiration for a Barack Obama campaign poster, wrongfully copyrighted the image it seeks to protect, the photographer told a judge.
Mannie Garcia, the freelance photographer who took the disputed photograph while on assignment for AP, said the news company’s copyright for the image should be invalidated, according to a July 9 filing in New York federal court.
“The AP is aware -- and was aware at the time of filing its copyright application in the Garcia photo -- that it was not the true owner of the rights to that photo,” the photographer’s lawyer, George Carpinello, said in the filing.
Garcia is challenging both the AP and Fairey by trying to join the pending lawsuit between them. The news company sued Fairey in March, accusing him and his Los Angeles-based company, Obey Giant Art Inc., of copyright infringement for using Garcia’s 2006 photograph of Obama at a National Press Club panel discussion about the humanitarian crisis in Sudan. Garcia also claims Fairey wrongfully copied the photograph.
The AP “remains confident in AP’s ownership of the copyright, because Mr. Garcia was an employee of AP when he took the photo in 2006,” said Paul Colford, an AP spokesman.
Garcia, who works out of Kensington, Maryland, said in his court filing that he can’t be considered an AP employee, because he was on assignment for five weeks and wasn’t eligable to join a union or receive health, vacation or unemployment benefits.
The Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington placed Fairey’s Obama image on display in January and the Institute for Contemporary Art in Boston opened a 20-year retrospective of his work two months later. Fairey’s work, often found in the form of street art, focuses on social and political subjects with media including screen prints and stencil paintings, court papers show.
The case is Fairey v. The Associated Press, 09-cv-01123, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).