Posts Tagged 'Shepard Fairey'

Are We Betraying the Planet?

Shepard Fairey Mural, Downtown Cincinnati Photo by chrisglass

Copyright Infringement vs. Artistic Freedom

In this clip, Shepard Fairey, artist of “Hope” poster fame, defends himself against the AP’s allegations that he stole the image on which the obsequious illustration was based. (For background, you can see our post from early February.)

Fairey, who seems to have never met a copyright he didn’t want to infringe, claims these type of lawsuits will hinder artistic expression. While he believes in intellectual property, he says, “Is it really fair for the AP to send a ripple of fear out to that entire community [of politically themed artists] that they will not make art for fear of having, you know, congress coming after them for copyright law? … This is something that I need to fight just for the sake of artists in general, not just for me.”

I am torn. On the one hand, the photographer deserves his due. But the AP asking for damages seems excessive – can’t they prove their point with him paying the original licensing fee? It’s a slippery slope, as they say. If the AP doesn’t defend its copyrights, especially in such a high-profile case, then does everyone have free reign to take photos and manipulate them as they see fit?

Does it matter?

AP Wants Its Due From “Hope” Poster

Obama Poster
AP Photo – Mannie Garcia/Shepard Fairey

UPDATE: Shepard Fairey is now suing the AP, claiming he altered the image “with new meaning, new expressions and new messages.”

That ubiquitous “Hope” poster that came to symbolize Barack Obama’s presidential campaign was actually based on an AP photograph by Mannie Garcia. Problem was, the artist, Shepard Fairey, never licensed or paid for the photo and now the AP is crying copyright infringement. Fairey and his lawyers are calling it fair use.

It turns out there were quite a few people working on unraveling this mystery, but most point to Tom Gralish of the Philadelphia Enquirer as connecting the final dots. If you’re interested in how one goes about investigating a poster’s source material, read Gralish’s and blogger James Danziger’s account here and here.

The image will be going in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington. It’s made Fairey very, very famous, if not rich (he claims he’s earned no money from the poster, having donated it to the Obama campaign). But, as a firmly fringe, anti-establishment street artist (well, at least he was before he signed on to design presidential campaign posters), Fairey of all people should recognize the importance of giving artists their due.

Story from The AP

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