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‘Hope’ Artist Admits Using Stolen Photo

From a suddenly outraged Associated Press:

Artist admits using key AP photo for ‘HOPE’ poster


NEW YORK — Shepard Fairey’s claim that he had the right to use a news photo to create his famous Barack Obama "HOPE" poster became a widely watched court case about fair use that now appears to have nearly collapsed.

By Friday night, his attorneys — led by Anthony Falzone, executive director of the Fair Use Project at Stanford University — had withdrawn from the case and said the artist had misled them by fabricating information and destroying other material.

Fairey himself admitted that he didn’t use The Associated Press photo of Obama seated next to actor George Clooney he originally said his work was based on — which he claimed would have been covered under "fair use," the legal claim that copyrighted work can be used without having to pay for it.

Instead he used a picture the news organization has claimed was his source — a solo picture of the future president seemingly closer to the iconic red, white and blue image of Obama, underlined with the caption "HOPE." Fairey said that he tried to cover up his error by submitting false images and deleting others

"Shepard Fairey has now been forced to admit that he sued the AP under false pretenses by lying about which AP photograph he used," said AP vice president and general counsel Srinandan R. Kasi. "Mr. Fairey has also now admitted to the AP that he fabricated and attempted to destroy other evidence in an effort to bolster his fair use case and cover up his previous lies and omissions."

Kasi said Fairey’s admission struck "at the heart" of Fairey’s defense that he was protected by fair use.

Kasi said the AP would continue to pursue its countersuit alleging that Fairey willfully infringed the AP’s copyright. It was not immediately clear from the statements issued and court filings if Fairey would continue with his case, but a person close to Fairey said that the artist would. The person was not authorized to discuss the case and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Fairey, 39, had claimed he based his "HOPE" drawing on a photo of then-Sen. Obama seated next to Clooney. The photo was taken in April 2006 by Mannie Garcia, on assignment for the AP, at the National Press Club in Washington.

Fairey now says he started with a solo photograph of Obama — taken at the same event, by the same photographer. The AP has long maintained that Fairey used the solo shot for the poster…

Attorneys for Fairey have withdrawn and, in papers filed Friday in federal court in Manhattan, stated that he misled them. They also amended the original court documents, reflecting that Fairey used a different picture.

"Mr. Fairey was apparently mistaken about the photograph he used when his original complaint for declaratory relief was filed on February 9, 2009," the papers say. "After the original complaint was filed, Mr. Fairey realized his mistake. Instead of acknowledging that mistake, Mr. Fairey attempted to delete the electronic files he had used in creating the illustration at issue. He also created, and delivered to his counsel for production, new documents to make it appear as though he had used the Clooney photograph as his reference." …

Fairey also used the AP photograph for an image designed specially for the Obama inaugural committee, which charged anywhere from $100 for a poster to $500 for a poster signed by the artist. It is unclear how much, in total, Fairey may have earned from the design…

In February 2009, Fairey was arrested when he went to Boston for an event kicking off his solo exhibit at the Institute of Contemporary Art, among the most popular in the museum’s more than 70-year history.

He faced dozens of vandalism charges, but nearly all were dropped. He pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor charges last summer and was sentenced to two years probation.

We’re not really sure how any of this is a surprise. Was there anything from the Obama campaign that was original?

They ‘borrowed’ their slogans, even large parts of Mr. Obama’s speeches. It was a total sham from the start.

But our media masters, such as those at the Associated Press, didn’t seem to mind one bit.

At least, not until they noticed this poster was based on one of their photos.

But if have to live with the consequences of their failure to do their jobs as journalists, so should they.

This article was posted by Steve on Saturday, October 17th, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

5 Responses to “‘Hope’ Artist Admits Using Stolen Photo”

  1. proreason says:


  2. Liberals Demise says:

    As with all of this regime………..a sham and a flim-flam!!

  3. canary says:

    I can picture Obama selling autographs on E-Bay some day, like O.J.

    • untrainable says:

      Who would buy one? There are already enough of his signatures out there on screwy legislation that his scribblings won’t be worth the paper they’re scribbled on.

  4. artboyusa says:

    Mr Fairey could have just picked up a pencil or piece of charcoal and drawn his stupid Obama picture – that’s what I would have done – but in the edgy, transgressive, taboo-busting world of contemporary art, that probably never even occurred to him. It gets more and more rare to find a piece of representaional art that is the outcome of the artist’s direct response to the subject. Instead, everything is mediated through the dead mechanical eye of the camera or the computer, with the artist serving only as a kind of technician. And not even that if they’re a big name like Mr Fairey, since he can hire people to do all that technical stuff for him.

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