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Thursday, February 5, 2009

AP Sues Over Popular Obama Poster

Fair use is a legal concept that allows persons to retrieve copyrighted work for a limited purpose, usually not pecuniary in nature. It can often be applied to images and photographs or original designs. If you created something, you want to be able to keep it.

Well, one of the most popular pictures in the world this past year has been the Warholesque image of Barack Obama looking skyward, which was displayed on buttons, posters, and websites. I have it here. This is fair use. It is tied in to this article and is being used for a limited purpose.

Well, the Obama poster went worldwide and Shepherd Fairey, the Los Angeles based street artist who designed it has apparently made hundreds of thousands of dollars for his creation. Signed copies of his poster are going for thousands on E Bay.

Enter now the Associated Press. Their minions have determined that the photograph used in the poster is an AP photo. They claim the copyright, and now they want credit, compensation and residuals.

The AP essentially is saying the use went beyond fair use. Fairey hopes otherwise, but he has admitted that the design evolves out of a 2006 photograph taken by AP assignment reporter Mannie Garcia. He wants his cut. So does AP. After all, they bought the photo from him. It’s big money, so everyone wants their pound of flesh.

And this ladies and gentlemen, is how lawsuits are made. At least here everyone is talking about how they would like to settle.
Now here is an update to this story we never anticipated- Mr. Fairey has just been arrested, this 9th day of February----------
WCVB-TV in Boston has reported that Shepard Fairey was charged with damage to property for having painted two area locations with graffiti. Boston police said he had painted his "Andre The Giant" graffiti near an entrance to the Massachusetts Turpike and the Boston University bridge across the Charles River. It is public art for free; they should have been grateful :-)

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