Shepard Fairey arrested & accused of copyright infringement

0 Posted by - February 8, 2009 - Blog, Visual art

Update: Shepard Fairey is now suing AP, looking to vindicate himself and get a court order that his ‘hope’ image does not violate AP’s copyright. It seems that it may have been some preemptive court action, as AP was reportedly going to sue Fairey tomorrow.

It’s been a rough week for Shepard Fairey.

First the artist is pounced upon by Associated Press, who have accused him of copyright infringement and are demanding compensation. Fairey’s insanely popular Hope portrait of Obama is based on an AP photograph — a fact he freely admits, rightfully chalking it up to fair use.

Lawyers for the two sides are chitchatting, but legal follies aside, this seems like PR suicide for AP. Besides AP coming across as petty and penny pinching, there are two interesting facts to consider:

  1. Shepard Fairey hasn’t profited one cent from the portrait, with all proceeds being funneled into the Obama campaing
  2. The photographer who shot the photo, Mannie Garcia, has no desire to see a lawsuit, and has no problem with Fairey using his photo as a launching pad. He no longer even works for AP.

Fortunately Fairey has top notch representation in the form of Anthony Falzone, head of the Stanford Law School’s Fair Use Project.

Falzone will likely be of no help, however, in Fairey’s most recent legal woes. The artist was arrested Friday night in Boston on his way to the opening of his first solo exhibition, Supply and Demand, at the Institute of Contemporary Art. Tagging was the alleged crime, which should come as little surprise given his dedication to street art, which is paired with unfortunate consequences — Fairey is said to have been arrested at least 14 times.

If all goes horridly wrong and he ends up in the slammer, at least he has all the right connections to land a pardon.

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