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HOPE poster creator admits to using AP photo

Shepard Fairey, noted for his iconic “HOPE” poster featuring Barack Obama, has now admitted that the photo he used as reference was indeed the one the AP has maintained he used. Fairey still maintains that his work should fall under fair use and will continue his lawsuit with AP.

Laurence Pulgram, an intellectual property lawyer who represented Napster in a copyright fight with the rock band Metallica, said Saturday that Fairey’s case was in trouble.

“This was a brain-dead move by Mr. Fairey, and it could be the turning point. His lawyers will still be able to argue that he made a ‘fair use’ under copyright law, but it’s a whole lot less likely that the court or jury will think that what he did was actually ‘fair’ if he has lied and tried to mislead the entire world about what use he made,” Pulgram said.

Community Comments

#1 Jim Lavery
@ 12:09 pm

If everything else about the Second Coming has turned out to be a lie it should be no suprise that its promotional flyer is a lie too.

#2 John Cole
@ 12:54 pm

Who invited the freeper?

#3 Jim Lavery
@ 6:33 am

If I were a Freeper they wouldn’t have kicked me out when I posted my cartoon there about another empty plastic vessel:

#4 JP Trostle
@ 10:33 am

It never ceases to amaze and annoy when *anyone* uses a single point of argument to somehow extrapolate the truth or falsehood of an entire system … regardless of the inanity of the “lie” statement above, Fairey has never denied he used a photo as a reference.

Did he trace the photo? No. Did he run it thru some magic photoshop filter? No. He created a new and original piece of art (with an inventive and bold style that was quickly absorbed into the popular culture), using a photo as a reference. This is a naked money grab by a corporation that is hurting for money. If it succeeds, caricaturists everywhere may as well throw away their pens.

#5 Pat Bagley
@ 2:06 pm

I agree with Trostle. Fairey created a piece of art using a photo as reference. I do it all the time.

Unfortunately, this important question of artistic expression is going to be politicized along left-right lines, just like everything else these days.

#6 Bearman Cartoons
@ 6:37 pm

Pat, If we were just talking about fair use I would agree with you.

However, the issue is that Fairey sued under false pretenses and potentially perjured under oath in deposition by lying about the true source.

#7 Jim Lavery
@ 10:17 pm

What is interesting is that Fairey has a history of doing this and maybe it took an entity as big as the AP to call him on it.

An informative article on Fairey’s plagerism was written BEFORE the creation of the Obama poster. The overall picture it gives is that this is common practice with him, he appropriates the work of others, gives no credit, then takes credit for himself, makes money off of it and then lies about it until he’s caught.

The thrust of the article isn’t politicized along left vs. right lines. The author is from the left and is annoyed that Fairey lifts the work of other leftist sources and strips it of it’s historical and ideological context in order to make it “his”.

#8 Dave Stephens
@ 1:15 am

NOT a caricature AT ALL. Copy a photo? Great! Improve your skills, your eye, etc.
Copy a photo and SELL it? That ain’t right because that’s an artist copying another artist’s work. It’s thievery, pure and simple.

Which artist should be protected – the photographer or the painter? Well, one came before the other, folks. Do the math.

#9 Ted Rall
@ 7:49 am

This is an interesting case. It’s easy to see both sides of the argument.

If I had to lay down money, though, I’d bet that Fairey will lose this case–and not just because he lied under oath. To my eye (and I suspect the jury’s), Fairey’s image doesn’t differ enough from the original to qualify as a discrete piece of art. It’s more of a derivation, which entitles the original photographer to receive credit and payment.

As cartoonists we should be sensitive to the rights, including copyrights, of photographers. They are our colleagues, and we ought to respect them–not least because we rely on their work so much for our own.

Politically, it’s super special that the single most iconic symbol of the Obama campaign turns out to be tied up with issues of misrepresentation and fraud…so much like the One himself.

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