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Should Shepard Fairey Be Sued for his Obama Poster?

Obama HOPE poster by Shepard Fairey

By now you should have heard about the fiasco surrounding Shepard Fairey’s Obama HOPE poster. It’s been all over the national media and every designer should pay close attention to it. It raises a lot of questions about what is considered fair use in the art world. Shepard’s well known for skirting around copyright infringement (although I don’t know all the nitty gritty details), but has he gone too far? He admitted to finding the image of Barack Obama on Google Images, something I know a lot of designers do for reference on a particular project.

I think it’s safe to assume most designers feel that if they change the image enough, they’re free from copyright infringement. Is that true?

So what do you think about the Obama poster? Clearly, he used the image as reference, but he did his own take on it. It’s a huge target for AP, the owners of the photo, because not only is it from the world famous street artist Shepard Fairey (most known for his Obey campaign) but it’s the freakin President! There are lots of people using the President’s likeness to make money or gain exposure for themselves. I’ve seen countless vector freebies of Obama flying around the web. Urban Outfitters is selling skate decks that we designed using Barack’s likeness amidst an imaginative illustration.

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The purpose of this post is to get people talking. Let’s open up a dialogue about this. Is AP just going for a cash grab? Is Shepard Fairey wrongfully using the image for his own benefit? This is a serious issue that all designers should be talking about.

About the Author, Jeff Finley

I'm a partner at Go Media, a Cleveland web design and development firm. We also specialize in print design and branding. I started Weapons of Mass Creation Fest and wrote the book Thread's Not Dead, teaching artists and designers how to start a clothing company. In my spare time, I write songs and play drums in Campfire Conspiracy. I'm a happy husband and an aspiring b-boy and lucid dreamer.
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Discussion

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  • Simon H.

    I think AP is just going to get cash and maybe because they don’t like Shepard Fairey.

    The poster obviously has the Fairey “touch” on it, he changed the orientation a bit etc etc.

  • http://www.rustyeight.com RustyEight

    Oh come on, lets be serious here. He redrew it, using that photo as a reference. Big deal. If anything, that poster helped elect Obama into office. I’m sick of people being so uptight about everything now.

    Chill out America.

  • http://tomfaraci.com Tom Faraci

    I guess it all depends on whether or not he made a profit off of it, and from my understanding it seems he’s been making it freely available to anyone. Either way, I think what’s going on in this case is a metaphor for the greed that’s damaging this country. The image is now iconic, and it has inspired millions, and now the AP wants a cut of it. I can’t say who’s right and who’s wrong from a legal standpoint, but that’s my two cents. I think they should drop it and move on.

  • http://www.rustyeight.com RustyEight

    Oh come on, lets be serious here. He redrew it, using that photo as a reference. Big deal. If anything, that poster helped elect Obama into office. I’m sick of people being so uptight about everything now.

    Chill out America.

  • http://tomfaraci.com Tom Faraci

    I guess it all depends on whether or not he made a profit off of it, and from my understanding it seems he’s been making it freely available to anyone. Either way, I think what’s going on in this case is a metaphor for the greed that’s damaging this country. The image is now iconic, and it has inspired millions, and now the AP wants a cut of it. I can’t say who’s right and who’s wrong from a legal standpoint, but that’s my two cents. I think they should drop it and move on.

  • http://www.denisdesigns.com/blog Tyler

    I think that at a certain point the photo becomes more of a reference than actually copying. I think Fairley is on the line. His version has gotten the publicity that the photo wouldn’t have gotten, not because of the photo, but because of the style.

  • Matt

    Personally, I think Fairey should be in the clear. The only resemblance to their photo is the outlines of Obama’s head. The AP are being greedy, which is not exactly representing the “Yes we can spirit.”

  • http://www.denisdesigns.com/blog Tyler

    I think that at a certain point the photo becomes more of a reference than actually copying. I think Fairley is on the line. His version has gotten the publicity that the photo wouldn’t have gotten, not because of the photo, but because of the style.

  • Eric Schultz

    Shepard is not using the image for his benefit, but for that of the candidate, now president he supports. The image, that he acknowledged he took from a Google search on the AP (the photographer who took the picture doesn’t even work for AP any more), was taken over a year ago and Shepard worked it to his style way back then.

    If AP had an issue with it, they should have said something then – not after the image has become a presidential icon and garnered so much attention.

    I do however stand by an artists copyright stance – Shepard should have asked to use it? Yes. Should he be sued? No. I believe AP should have acted as soon as the image came out, and that they would not be making such a fuss had Obama not won the presidency.

    I would like to think that the parties involved will come to some amicable solution without making it a bigger issue than it already is.

  • Eric Schultz

    Shepard is not using the image for his benefit, but for that of the candidate, now president he supports. The image, that he acknowledged he took from a Google search on the AP (the photographer who took the picture doesn’t even work for AP any more), was taken over a year ago and Shepard worked it to his style way back then.

    If AP had an issue with it, they should have said something then – not after the image has become a presidential icon and garnered so much attention.

    I do however stand by an artists copyright stance – Shepard should have asked to use it? Yes. Should he be sued? No. I believe AP should have acted as soon as the image came out, and that they would not be making such a fuss had Obama not won the presidency.

    I would like to think that the parties involved will come to some amicable solution without making it a bigger issue than it already is.

  • alanvalek.com

    I think the photographer should be compensated. I love Shepard’s work—but I don’t like to piss off photographers either. If it goes to court and that guy did in fact register that photo with the U.S. Copyright Office—Shepard will have to pay, end of story. That whole change the likeness of something 10-15% is BS, it just isn’t true. It’s quite a sticky situation, but it is what it is. If Shepard took the photo himself he would have more of an argument, but he didn’t. No matter what, it’s a great poster and will never be forgotten at this point

  • http://www.williambiwer.com Bill Biwer

    I believe that Fairey’s representation is merely a reference to the photo and nothing more.

    What I don’t understand is why has the AP waited so long to bring forth this lawsuit? If you ask me they are in a crunch during these tough economic times and are looking for a way to capitalize on the situation.

    On the other side I do think Fairey should have credited the photos source just out of courtesy.

    Agree or disagree, just my initial thoughts on the subject without knowing a bunch of facts and information.

  • Rob

    This is a tricky one, however I don’t think it is copyright infringment. All it shows is that fairey only has a creative imagination for the techniques he uses, relying solely on a reference of Obama.

    It was extremely naive of fairey to use a photograph for the _presidential candidate_ without thinking of the consequence’s of using a copyrighted image he pulled off google.

    I’m sure many many other artists have committed the same act of copying directly from a photograph, but in my opinion AP just wants a slice of the Obama royalty train.

  • http://www.williambiwer.com Bill Biwer

    I believe that Fairey’s representation is merely a reference to the photo and nothing more.

    What I don’t understand is why has the AP waited so long to bring forth this lawsuit? If you ask me they are in a crunch during these tough economic times and are looking for a way to capitalize on the situation.

    On the other side I do think Fairey should have credited the photos source just out of courtesy.

    Agree or disagree, just my initial thoughts on the subject without knowing a bunch of facts and information.

  • Rob

    This is a tricky one, however I don’t think it is copyright infringment. All it shows is that fairey only has a creative imagination for the techniques he uses, relying solely on a reference of Obama.

    It was extremely naive of fairey to use a photograph for the _presidential candidate_ without thinking of the consequence’s of using a copyrighted image he pulled off google.

    I’m sure many many other artists have committed the same act of copying directly from a photograph, but in my opinion AP just wants a slice of the Obama royalty train.

  • Sandoer

    Look, I understand that AP is probably just looking for cash. But if they took the pic, they own the rights. I’m sick of people telling me to “relax”, it’s just art, or a photo. I’m just using it. Bull$#!*. Someone makes a living creating the art, whether it be a sketch or photo or whatever. If you want to use it, get permission.

  • Sandoer

    Look, I understand that AP is probably just looking for cash. But if they took the pic, they own the rights. I’m sick of people telling me to “relax”, it’s just art, or a photo. I’m just using it. Bull$#!*. Someone makes a living creating the art, whether it be a sketch or photo or whatever. If you want to use it, get permission.

  • http://www.mothcreations.com Damien Rockne

    I agree with RustyEight…it is quite absurd that this is even becoming an issue. It would be different if they came after Shepard in the beginning, but don’t wait until the image is a national icon to america and our new president. I have researched this and the president has even sent Shepard a letter thanking him for the piece and his artistic abilities. On top of that Shepard has also donated a lot of the proceeds from this image to various organizations. Seems as thought he is not that money hunger for this image, but more interested on what is means to America. Leave the man alone…we have bigger fishes to fry in my opinion, what about the fact that we waste billions on bailing out major corps and then they slap up all in the face with their lavish vacations and new $50 million dollar jets. I will take my used car, my house that is worth nothing, and keep doing what I love…designing SUE ME IF YOU WANT!!!

  • http://www.mothcreations.com Damien Rockne

    I agree with RustyEight…it is quite absurd that this is even becoming an issue. It would be different if they came after Shepard in the beginning, but don’t wait until the image is a national icon to america and our new president. I have researched this and the president has even sent Shepard a letter thanking him for the piece and his artistic abilities. On top of that Shepard has also donated a lot of the proceeds from this image to various organizations. Seems as thought he is not that money hunger for this image, but more interested on what is means to America. Leave the man alone…we have bigger fishes to fry in my opinion, what about the fact that we waste billions on bailing out major corps and then they slap up all in the face with their lavish vacations and new $50 million dollar jets. I will take my used car, my house that is worth nothing, and keep doing what I love…designing SUE ME IF YOU WANT!!!

  • http://www.cypruscreekdigital.com Todd

    I think it’s definitely fair use, he used the photo for reference, but no part of the original photo is in the final image. If he would have just used the ‘Stamp’ filter in photoshop i could see why they’d be upset, but if you take a good look at it it’s obvious he put a lot of work into it.
    If someone had, for example, made a pencil drawing and used that photo as reference i don’t think they would be making such a big fuss, so i think this is part of the prejudice against artists using digital mediums (although Fairey, being a street artist could have made this by hand, it does have a ‘vector’ look and i think most people assume it was done digitally).
    People, at least in my experience, tend to assume anything made on the computer is somehow not ‘real art’, i guess because of the prevalence of people using one filter on an image and declaring it a masterpiece.

  • http://www.cypruscreekdigital.com Todd

    I think it’s definitely fair use, he used the photo for reference, but no part of the original photo is in the final image. If he would have just used the ‘Stamp’ filter in photoshop i could see why they’d be upset, but if you take a good look at it it’s obvious he put a lot of work into it.
    If someone had, for example, made a pencil drawing and used that photo as reference i don’t think they would be making such a big fuss, so i think this is part of the prejudice against artists using digital mediums (although Fairey, being a street artist could have made this by hand, it does have a ‘vector’ look and i think most people assume it was done digitally).
    People, at least in my experience, tend to assume anything made on the computer is somehow not ‘real art’, i guess because of the prevalence of people using one filter on an image and declaring it a masterpiece.

  • Cory

    I think APs a little late in the game. If they had any problem with this–they should’ve consulted Shepard in the beginning stages…as it wasn’t long before this graphic became quite popular.

    In any case, this image was a reference. If it was clearly traced–it’d be a different story, I think.

    I also am happy for Shepard to an extent. Bad publicity can be good publicity and benefit Shepard, his work and his company. All in all–it’d be interesting to see the spike in his growth from this.

    Suck it. AP.

  • Cory

    I think APs a little late in the game. If they had any problem with this–they should’ve consulted Shepard in the beginning stages…as it wasn’t long before this graphic became quite popular.

    In any case, this image was a reference. If it was clearly traced–it’d be a different story, I think.

    I also am happy for Shepard to an extent. Bad publicity can be good publicity and benefit Shepard, his work and his company. All in all–it’d be interesting to see the spike in his growth from this.

    Suck it. AP.

  • Tessa

    it’s a change of medium AND a creative reproduction (as opposed to a “slavish” reproduction), so they have no claim…

    corel was charged in a reproduction complaint and the case was dismissed… see the last paragraph… http://cnx.org/content/m13912/latest/

    not to mention this kind of thing has been going on FOREVER, the most well-known artist to do so being Andy Warhol

  • Tessa

    it’s a change of medium AND a creative reproduction (as opposed to a “slavish” reproduction), so they have no claim…

    corel was charged in a reproduction complaint and the case was dismissed… see the last paragraph… http://cnx.org/content/m13912/latest/

    not to mention this kind of thing has been going on FOREVER, the most well-known artist to do so being Andy Warhol

  • http://www.gomedia.us Jeff Finley

    Someone told me that they felt that taking a photo of Obama doesn’t necessarily have the same kind of merit or achievement as they think. It’s easy to stand in front of a public figure and snap a photo.

    My buddy also brought up a good point, with patents and trademarks on everything from “dragging and dropping” to “double clicking” I think it’s kind of crazy. The photographer is using the likeness of Barack Obama, and at what point does Barack get to claim the money HE deserves from all this?

    Anyway, I love all the different perspectives people have. It’s such a good conversation!!

  • http://www.gomedia.us Jeff Finley

    Someone told me that they felt that taking a photo of Obama doesn’t necessarily have the same kind of merit or achievement as they think. It’s easy to stand in front of a public figure and snap a photo.

    My buddy also brought up a good point, with patents and trademarks on everything from “dragging and dropping” to “double clicking” I think it’s kind of crazy. The photographer is using the likeness of Barack Obama, and at what point does Barack get to claim the money HE deserves from all this?

    Anyway, I love all the different perspectives people have. It’s such a good conversation!!

  • nobahdi

    As far as this image goes, it’s an artist’s interpretation of a photo and should not be subject to copyright infringement. Case closed.

    But…

    The following article is not too flattering for Fairey. It notes obviously intentional ripoffs in his past. The only question is if he didn’t think anyone would notice, or if he wanted to make an artistic statement about the original works. It doesn’t look good for him because I don’t think you can claim “artistic statement” about a shirt sold at Wal-Mart.

    http://www.art-for-a-change.com/Obey/index.htm

  • http://www.loozabeats.de tcr

    For this case: Hard to say. He probably should have asked or use another photo. Because afterall the beauty of that poster is not really the pic that was used as source but the overall style, he could have easily used a similar picture and the effect would have been the same. Still, pay some respect (=part of the profit (if there is any)) to the original photographer.

    In General: People muttering something about “fair use” and “inspiration” are usually the ones who are unable to come up with any idea of their own and have to make a collage of stolen ideas to get any work done. I am very much for artistic rights, in music as well as in graphic design. Fellow Designers, please respect license terms. A CC or GPU license does not mean that you can do whatever you please.

  • nobahdi

    As far as this image goes, it’s an artist’s interpretation of a photo and should not be subject to copyright infringement. Case closed.

    But…

    The following article is not too flattering for Fairey. It notes obviously intentional ripoffs in his past. The only question is if he didn’t think anyone would notice, or if he wanted to make an artistic statement about the original works. It doesn’t look good for him because I don’t think you can claim “artistic statement” about a shirt sold at Wal-Mart.

    http://www.art-for-a-change.com/Obey/index.htm

  • http://www.loozabeats.de tcr

    For this case: Hard to say. He probably should have asked or use another photo. Because afterall the beauty of that poster is not really the pic that was used as source but the overall style, he could have easily used a similar picture and the effect would have been the same. Still, pay some respect (=part of the profit (if there is any)) to the original photographer.

    In General: People muttering something about “fair use” and “inspiration” are usually the ones who are unable to come up with any idea of their own and have to make a collage of stolen ideas to get any work done. I am very much for artistic rights, in music as well as in graphic design. Fellow Designers, please respect license terms. A CC or GPU license does not mean that you can do whatever you please.

  • http://www.genkazak.com Gen

    This is ridiculous. I don’t think he should be sued. If that were the case, then every designer who has used a photo AS REFERENCE would have to be sued as well.

  • http://www.genkazak.com Gen

    This is ridiculous. I don’t think he should be sued. If that were the case, then every designer who has used a photo AS REFERENCE would have to be sued as well.

  • Robert

    I always look at it from this perspective: How would I feel if I was the “original” artist? In this instance, being the photographer. I am sure if I was to rip-off one of Shep’s pieces and make money at it, he would be standing in line with his lawyers. Most view points I have read on this and similar stories, are from the perspective of the person doing the copying, so obviously they don’t see anything wrong with it. Ultimately, there are too many grey areas in this kind of topic, and the court system seems to have difficulty as well.

  • Dave

    isnt this what Fairey is about- hasnt this been his thing from the start? If he did a negative campaign with Bush- would the problem still be there? I doubt it. I always say ‘what would Banksy do?’.

  • Dave

    isnt this what Fairey is about- hasnt this been his thing from the start? If he did a negative campaign with Bush- would the problem still be there? I doubt it. I always say ‘what would Banksy do?’.

  • http://www.twoeightnine.com twoeightnine
  • http://www.twoeightnine.com twoeightnine
  • BLUEFROG

    Politics aside (since they ARE NOT the issue), this is about the legal rights of the copyright holder, not the whims of some artist. If you have never had a copyright violated (I have) you may not see what the big deal is but I certainly hope you don’t have to learn how important copyright is the way I did. Fairey may try to play his “rebel – no harm / no foul” but this is obviously an unauthorized derivative work.

    Derivative Works: http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ14.pdf
    Only the owner of copyright in a work has the right to pre-
    pare, or to authorize someone else to create, a new version
    of that work. The owner is generally the author or someone
    who has obtained rights from the author. Anyone interested
    in a work who does not know the owner of copyright may
    search the records of the Copyright Office or ask the Office
    to conduct a search for an hourly fee. For further informa-
    tion, see Circular 22, How to Investigate the Copyright Status
    of a Work.

    Apply the simple test of Trade Dress Infringement… How would the average person on the street perceive it? Not that it’s the EXACT same image but that it is the SAME image. (Ever wonder why Campbell’s Soup cans are the only red, white, and gold ones?)

    On Fair Use: http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html

    “…the image has led to sales of hundreds of thousands of posters and stickers, has become so much in demand that copies signed by Fairey have been purchased for thousands of dollars on eBay.” There is money changing hands here (not that it’s the only problem with this argument) regardless of whose hands they are. He started the problem by creating an unauthorized derivative work and then encouraging others to use it (implying some false legality to the image).

    My 5 cents… btw, I am an Artist / Photographer / violated Copyright Holder, not an Attorney (but you better believe I try and keep on this stuff!)

  • BLUEFROG

    Politics aside (since they ARE NOT the issue), this is about the legal rights of the copyright holder, not the whims of some artist. If you have never had a copyright violated (I have) you may not see what the big deal is but I certainly hope you don’t have to learn how important copyright is the way I did. Fairey may try to play his “rebel – no harm / no foul” but this is obviously an unauthorized derivative work.

    Derivative Works: http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ14.pdf
    Only the owner of copyright in a work has the right to pre-
    pare, or to authorize someone else to create, a new version
    of that work. The owner is generally the author or someone
    who has obtained rights from the author. Anyone interested
    in a work who does not know the owner of copyright may
    search the records of the Copyright Office or ask the Office
    to conduct a search for an hourly fee. For further informa-
    tion, see Circular 22, How to Investigate the Copyright Status
    of a Work.

    Apply the simple test of Trade Dress Infringement… How would the average person on the street perceive it? Not that it’s the EXACT same image but that it is the SAME image. (Ever wonder why Campbell’s Soup cans are the only red, white, and gold ones?)

    On Fair Use: http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html

    “…the image has led to sales of hundreds of thousands of posters and stickers, has become so much in demand that copies signed by Fairey have been purchased for thousands of dollars on eBay.” There is money changing hands here (not that it’s the only problem with this argument) regardless of whose hands they are. He started the problem by creating an unauthorized derivative work and then encouraging others to use it (implying some false legality to the image).

    My 5 cents… btw, I am an Artist / Photographer / violated Copyright Holder, not an Attorney (but you better believe I try and keep on this stuff!)

  • http://www.digitalskraps.com David Sparks

    Having used google images for reference and the like idk.. i changed the images i used and spliced many together to create completely new images.
    imo, there’s nothing wrong here with what he did.

    should cambels and chacita sue Warhol?

    as a photographer you’re capturing what has already been made. in many cases this is simply composing a new image of somebody elses art form and calling it your own. taking a good angle with proper lighting and following all the photography best practices to take a shot of a building.. somebody’s architectural art. the photo is suddenly theirs.

    they’re presenting it in a new way and thats ok.
    using the exact image obviously has ownership issues which he didnt do.

    reinterpreting and representing the same idea in a new way is ok as well.

  • http://www.digitalskraps.com David Sparks

    Having used google images for reference and the like idk.. i changed the images i used and spliced many together to create completely new images.
    imo, there’s nothing wrong here with what he did.

    should cambels and chacita sue Warhol?

    as a photographer you’re capturing what has already been made. in many cases this is simply composing a new image of somebody elses art form and calling it your own. taking a good angle with proper lighting and following all the photography best practices to take a shot of a building.. somebody’s architectural art. the photo is suddenly theirs.

    they’re presenting it in a new way and thats ok.
    using the exact image obviously has ownership issues which he didnt do.

    reinterpreting and representing the same idea in a new way is ok as well.

  • Matthew

    The AP has a long history of being abusive of copyright law.

    The major point here being that the AP only recently became aware that it was theirs! If there was any evidence that using this picture was detrimental to their business, then we would have heard from the AP long ago.

    However, this image and this poster have become the very definition of transformative and falls under fair use.

  • Matthew

    The AP has a long history of being abusive of copyright law.

    The major point here being that the AP only recently became aware that it was theirs! If there was any evidence that using this picture was detrimental to their business, then we would have heard from the AP long ago.

    However, this image and this poster have become the very definition of transformative and falls under fair use.

  • BLUEFROG

    BTW, there is no such thing as a “change it 20%” rule (or any percent). That’s a myth infringers like to use to make it look like they’re not hacks.

    Also, Fairey is NOT a Warhol. 8^)

  • BLUEFROG

    BTW, there is no such thing as a “change it 20%” rule (or any percent). That’s a myth infringers like to use to make it look like they’re not hacks.

    Also, Fairey is NOT a Warhol. 8^)

  • http://graysuite.blogspot.com heather

    I think it’s indefensible and unethical–but illegal? No. But Fairey should really show more respect to a mutual artist and try to connect with them to see if it was permissible. If he had tried but couldn’t get in touch with AP, there’d be no fault on him. But he didn’t and so now AP has the argument that he should have.

    This certainly isn’t the only time Fairey has reinterpreted art for his gain. And it’s really unfortunate, because the original artist worked hard on their work and someone shouldn’t be allowed to just take it and reappropriate it and then call it their own (which Fairey does a lot, he never gives credit to people’s work he uses which is purposely misleading.)

    It’s like a journalist lying to someone in order to get the story. Is it illegal? Not exactly, but it doesn’t mean we have to trust the journalist’s credibility either. And I think that’s the bottom line, Fairey doesn’t have to be officially punished, but maybe he shouldn’t be a respected member of the industry/community either, if he’s not willing to play fair.

  • http://graysuite.blogspot.com heather

    I think it’s indefensible and unethical–but illegal? No. But Fairey should really show more respect to a mutual artist and try to connect with them to see if it was permissible. If he had tried but couldn’t get in touch with AP, there’d be no fault on him. But he didn’t and so now AP has the argument that he should have.

    This certainly isn’t the only time Fairey has reinterpreted art for his gain. And it’s really unfortunate, because the original artist worked hard on their work and someone shouldn’t be allowed to just take it and reappropriate it and then call it their own (which Fairey does a lot, he never gives credit to people’s work he uses which is purposely misleading.)

    It’s like a journalist lying to someone in order to get the story. Is it illegal? Not exactly, but it doesn’t mean we have to trust the journalist’s credibility either. And I think that’s the bottom line, Fairey doesn’t have to be officially punished, but maybe he shouldn’t be a respected member of the industry/community either, if he’s not willing to play fair.

  • Chris

    The real question is not about Shepard Fairey right now in the first place. The real question is, does AP have the right to go after him. They do not, more than likely, own the copyright.

    Here are two questions from an interview with Mr. Garcia.

    2) Where you either an employee, or a freelance photographer, as defined by their contract, for the AP when you took this image?

    I was a temporary hire, filling in for a staffer at the AP. It is my understanding that I was neither a freelancer nor a staffer, but rather a temporary hire. I have never been an AP staff employee, and no, I have never signed an AP contract.

    3) So, you own the copyright to the image?

    The ownership of the copyright is in dispute, as per the AP. It is my understanding that since I was not a staffer, and was not a freelancer, and did not sign any contract, that I am the owner of the copyright, but I am in discussions with the AP over this issue.

    The entire interview can be found here.
    http://photobusinessforum.blogspot.com/2009/02/10-questions-for-mannie-garcia.html

    As a photographer myself, I guess I would be more concerned with AP trying to appropriate a copyright that was not theirs to begin with.

    After which, I would begin talks with Shepard Fairey. All that has been changed is the color and text has been added. It WAS NOT re-drawn, the software used to identify the image would not have been capable of matching it exactly if it were.

    I would think that from all of the stickers and posters and t-shirts and everything else (I have read in the hundreds of thousands of both), that a hefty sum was made. Why was it that Mr. Fairey felt no concern in taking the image and manipulating the color without permission? I have no real answers, but I do know how important this image has become to a lot of people and a movement. How much did he make and what did he do with the money? If he covered his costs then gave the money to charity, then I would have no dispute with him, but if he is sitting on a ton of it, then I would think I was entitled, considering, without my image, he would not have one. He would have had to get another one, shot by another photographer, and then the argument begins again, unless he uses an image from a free stock resource.

    I saw that Jeff wrote that someone said to him, “when is Obama going to start charging for his likeness”, well, that happens all the time. As a photographer, I have been given contracts for that exact purpose, so I do not re-sell the persons likeness, so I do not profit from it beyond my assignment or I will be sued, that has been around a long time no matter how ridiculous it may sound (I agree that it is), it is happening.

  • Chris

    The real question is not about Shepard Fairey right now in the first place. The real question is, does AP have the right to go after him. They do not, more than likely, own the copyright.

    Here are two questions from an interview with Mr. Garcia.

    2) Where you either an employee, or a freelance photographer, as defined by their contract, for the AP when you took this image?

    I was a temporary hire, filling in for a staffer at the AP. It is my understanding that I was neither a freelancer nor a staffer, but rather a temporary hire. I have never been an AP staff employee, and no, I have never signed an AP contract.

    3) So, you own the copyright to the image?

    The ownership of the copyright is in dispute, as per the AP. It is my understanding that since I was not a staffer, and was not a freelancer, and did not sign any contract, that I am the owner of the copyright, but I am in discussions with the AP over this issue.

    The entire interview can be found here.
    http://photobusinessforum.blogspot.com/2009/02/10-questions-for-mannie-garcia.html

    As a photographer myself, I guess I would be more concerned with AP trying to appropriate a copyright that was not theirs to begin with.

    After which, I would begin talks with Shepard Fairey. All that has been changed is the color and text has been added. It WAS NOT re-drawn, the software used to identify the image would not have been capable of matching it exactly if it were.

    I would think that from all of the stickers and posters and t-shirts and everything else (I have read in the hundreds of thousands of both), that a hefty sum was made. Why was it that Mr. Fairey felt no concern in taking the image and manipulating the color without permission? I have no real answers, but I do know how important this image has become to a lot of people and a movement. How much did he make and what did he do with the money? If he covered his costs then gave the money to charity, then I would have no dispute with him, but if he is sitting on a ton of it, then I would think I was entitled, considering, without my image, he would not have one. He would have had to get another one, shot by another photographer, and then the argument begins again, unless he uses an image from a free stock resource.

    I saw that Jeff wrote that someone said to him, “when is Obama going to start charging for his likeness”, well, that happens all the time. As a photographer, I have been given contracts for that exact purpose, so I do not re-sell the persons likeness, so I do not profit from it beyond my assignment or I will be sued, that has been around a long time no matter how ridiculous it may sound (I agree that it is), it is happening.

  • Krainiac

    The problem is that Fairey fails to credit the original artists in many of his works. The link on Nobahdi’s post is very eye opening to the blatant copying Shepard claims and sells as his own art. If anything, the original photographer should be compensated. Hopefully this sheds light on some of Fairey’s more questionable work.

  • Krainiac

    The problem is that Fairey fails to credit the original artists in many of his works. The link on Nobahdi’s post is very eye opening to the blatant copying Shepard claims and sells as his own art. If anything, the original photographer should be compensated. Hopefully this sheds light on some of Fairey’s more questionable work.

  • http://www.gomedia.us katie

    I would say that Shepard is well within his rights. The general rule of thumb is that a piece must altered at least 80% to be considered an “original” work. This is by the standards of the AIGA (professional graphic design association). They are the gurus on all that is just in the design world. I think AP is only going after him since they see that he’s clearly making loads of money and are trying to grab their piece of the pie. Check out this link for more on copyright and licensing! http://www.aiga.org/content.cfm/copyright-and-licensing

  • http://www.gomedia.us katie

    I would say that Shepard is well within his rights. The general rule of thumb is that a piece must altered at least 80% to be considered an “original” work. This is by the standards of the AIGA (professional graphic design association). They are the gurus on all that is just in the design world. I think AP is only going after him since they see that he’s clearly making loads of money and are trying to grab their piece of the pie. Check out this link for more on copyright and licensing! http://www.aiga.org/content.cfm/copyright-and-licensing

  • Kris

    What the image was used FOR shouldn’t matter at all – the defense that it was okay because it helped Obama get elected only works if you would also defend someone’s copyright infringement if he helped get Hitler elected or Mother Theresa assassinated. The reality is that without that photo this poster wouldn’t exist the way it does now. A slightly different image may not have generated the same emotional reaction in viewers. And not all compensation is monetary – before this poster his name was largely unknown outside of the art/design community, now many, many more people know who he is. Even if he didn’t make a dime off of this he’s likely to make a lot more money in the long run because of it. He certainly didn’t remain anonymous.

    He used an image without permission and gained a lot from it. That is copyright infringement.

  • Kris

    What the image was used FOR shouldn’t matter at all – the defense that it was okay because it helped Obama get elected only works if you would also defend someone’s copyright infringement if he helped get Hitler elected or Mother Theresa assassinated. The reality is that without that photo this poster wouldn’t exist the way it does now. A slightly different image may not have generated the same emotional reaction in viewers. And not all compensation is monetary – before this poster his name was largely unknown outside of the art/design community, now many, many more people know who he is. Even if he didn’t make a dime off of this he’s likely to make a lot more money in the long run because of it. He certainly didn’t remain anonymous.

    He used an image without permission and gained a lot from it. That is copyright infringement.

  • Kris

    Another point – just because other people are doing similar things is not justification that it’s okay. It’s the classic of ‘if everyone was jumping off a bridge would you?’ You are the only one responsible for your integrity as a designer.

  • Kris

    Another point – just because other people are doing similar things is not justification that it’s okay. It’s the classic of ‘if everyone was jumping off a bridge would you?’ You are the only one responsible for your integrity as a designer.

  • brian

    obama should turn around and sue the photographer

  • brian

    obama should turn around and sue the photographer

  • Mike

    Fairey isn’t receiving any monetary benefits from his poster. Suing Fairey will only make you look like a corporate monster. It’d be like suing the makers of Che t-shirts or distributers of Mona Lisa postcards. Even Time magazine used Fairey’s poster image. And yes, Obama should sue the photographer.

  • Mike

    Fairey isn’t receiving any monetary benefits from his poster. Suing Fairey will only make you look like a corporate monster. It’d be like suing the makers of Che t-shirts or distributers of Mona Lisa postcards. Even Time magazine used Fairey’s poster image. And yes, Obama should sue the photographer.

  • caleb

    Everyone for it is assuming it’s a work of art right? What if he’s just got it polished down to a photoshop filter? Click, done. Is that enough of an iteration away from the original to justify it as an original piece? If I grabbed something off of veer and just used the standard Illustrator multi-color trace function, does that mean I never have to pay for the original image?

    I see the poster as a function of technology more than style. The only reason you have a limited color palette is that that’s the nature of the printing press – it’d be a bitch to screen print hundreds of colors at the pixel level, so you cut it down to three or four. The lack of technical resolution at the hardware end doesn’t change the copyright on the image it’s being produced from.

    And he was/is selling the obama stuff from his site at various times, though I don’t know if those profits were being retained by him or donated to the DNC.

  • caleb

    Everyone for it is assuming it’s a work of art right? What if he’s just got it polished down to a photoshop filter? Click, done. Is that enough of an iteration away from the original to justify it as an original piece? If I grabbed something off of veer and just used the standard Illustrator multi-color trace function, does that mean I never have to pay for the original image?

    I see the poster as a function of technology more than style. The only reason you have a limited color palette is that that’s the nature of the printing press – it’d be a bitch to screen print hundreds of colors at the pixel level, so you cut it down to three or four. The lack of technical resolution at the hardware end doesn’t change the copyright on the image it’s being produced from.

    And he was/is selling the obama stuff from his site at various times, though I don’t know if those profits were being retained by him or donated to the DNC.

  • circean

    Complete and udder bull, and we wonder why the country is in the shape that it is in? Shepard is well within his rights, but I’m sure this will be settled out of court and AP will get their grubby hands on some kind of cash flow. I think people should have a bit more banksy in them and just tag ALL art. Art is a form of free speech, something we used to have in this country.. what happened along the way?

  • circean

    Complete and udder bull, and we wonder why the country is in the shape that it is in? Shepard is well within his rights, but I’m sure this will be settled out of court and AP will get their grubby hands on some kind of cash flow. I think people should have a bit more banksy in them and just tag ALL art. Art is a form of free speech, something we used to have in this country.. what happened along the way?

  • BLUEFROG

    For those who think Fairey is just great artist and above the litigious behavior… http://www.changethethought.com/tag/shepard-fairey-lawsuit/

    Talk about the pot and the kettle! These are actually a lot farther away what Fairey did.

  • BLUEFROG

    For those who think Fairey is just great artist and above the litigious behavior… http://www.changethethought.com/tag/shepard-fairey-lawsuit/

    Talk about the pot and the kettle! These are actually a lot farther away what Fairey did.

  • http://www.williambiwer.com Bill Biwer

    “Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery – celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.”

    — Jim Jarmusch

  • http://www.williambiwer.com Bill Biwer

    “Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery – celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.”

    — Jim Jarmusch

  • http://www.loozabeats.de tcr

    This jarmusch quote is utter crap and I doubt it’s real, given the other things he definately said.

  • http://www.loozabeats.de tcr

    This jarmusch quote is utter crap and I doubt it’s real, given the other things he definately said.

  • http://www.thepixeljunky.net Rob

    I say AP is being crazy, the only similarity is that its Obama in both images.

  • http://www.thepixeljunky.net Rob

    I say AP is being crazy, the only similarity is that its Obama in both images.

  • Adam

    I’d be friggin’ honored if a photo I took was used in imagery like that.

  • Adam

    I’d be friggin’ honored if a photo I took was used in imagery like that.

  • Simon H.

    I think AP is just going to get cash and maybe because they don’t like Shepard Fairey.

    The poster obviously has the Fairey “touch” on it, he changed the orientation a bit etc etc.

  • Jennifer

    Whoever owns the copyright to the photo, whether it’s AP or the photographer, should receive compensation for its use. The photo represents an investment of time, money and skill.

    Fairey’s use of the photo without permission was lazy and immoral. I’m glad he’s being sued.

  • Jennifer

    Whoever owns the copyright to the photo, whether it’s AP or the photographer, should receive compensation for its use. The photo represents an investment of time, money and skill.

    Fairey’s use of the photo without permission was lazy and immoral. I’m glad he’s being sued.

  • http://blog.ruderetro.com Rude Retro

    For people who think that AP should have gone after him from the beginning, they might have if they had known it was theirs. I recently read an article where one journalist searched for and eventually found the original photo and contacted the photographer who himself had no idea that Fairey’s image was based on it. Soon after this news came up.

  • http://blog.ruderetro.com Rude Retro

    For people who think that AP should have gone after him from the beginning, they might have if they had known it was theirs. I recently read an article where one journalist searched for and eventually found the original photo and contacted the photographer who himself had no idea that Fairey’s image was based on it. Soon after this news came up.

  • Matt

    Personally, I think Fairey should be in the clear. The only resemblance to their photo is the outlines of Obama’s head. The AP are being greedy, which is not exactly representing the “Yes we can spirit.”

  • alanvalek.com

    I think the photographer should be compensated. I love Shepard’s work—but I don’t like to piss off photographers either. If it goes to court and that guy did in fact register that photo with the U.S. Copyright Office—Shepard will have to pay, end of story. That whole change the likeness of something 10-15% is BS, it just isn’t true. It’s quite a sticky situation, but it is what it is. If Shepard took the photo himself he would have more of an argument, but he didn’t. No matter what, it’s a great poster and will never be forgotten at this point

  • http://www.bittbox.com Jay Hilgert

    This is an example of jealousy and greed on the part of the AP.

    Should landscape painters be sued by God because he owns the rights to the landscapes they paint?

    I say anything you draw with your own 2 hands (or one) is fair game, no matter what reference/inspiration you use.

  • http://www.bittbox.com Jay Hilgert

    This is an example of jealousy and greed on the part of the AP.

    Should landscape painters be sued by God because he owns the rights to the landscapes they paint?

    I say anything you draw with your own 2 hands (or one) is fair game, no matter what reference/inspiration you use.

  • Robert

    I always look at it from this perspective: How would I feel if I was the “original” artist? In this instance, being the photographer. I am sure if I was to rip-off one of Shep’s pieces and make money at it, he would be standing in line with his lawyers. Most view points I have read on this and similar stories, are from the perspective of the person doing the copying, so obviously they don’t see anything wrong with it. Ultimately, there are too many grey areas in this kind of topic, and the court system seems to have difficulty as well.

  • http://www.pushingbuttons.net Timothy

    He should not get in trouble. It’s ludicrous

  • http://www.pushingbuttons.net Timothy

    He should not get in trouble. It’s ludicrous

  • picture freak

    Sorry ladies and gents ,BUT….
    I dont know if fairey made money with this work, but I think you cannot use someone else’s picture so obviously without being aware of the risks. The guy who made the soul of the final poster is the photographer who took the source image! Giving any picture who happen to pick up on “Google image” an illustrator look, and claiming you did something NEW is just not possible. In a more general way of speaking, I think that many works of actual designers would be more personnal if they tried to use their own pictures as a source to their work.

    Sorry for my poor english but I’m a f**cking frog…

  • picture freak

    Sorry ladies and gents ,BUT….
    I dont know if fairey made money with this work, but I think you cannot use someone else’s picture so obviously without being aware of the risks. The guy who made the soul of the final poster is the photographer who took the source image! Giving any picture who happen to pick up on “Google image” an illustrator look, and claiming you did something NEW is just not possible. In a more general way of speaking, I think that many works of actual designers would be more personnal if they tried to use their own pictures as a source to their work.

    Sorry for my poor english but I’m a f**cking frog…

  • Jim

    My understanding (limited though it may) of copyright law is that once you change at least 20% of the original image, you’re in the clear. In this case, Fairey completely redesigned the image, using the AP photo as a reference. It’s utterly ridiculous. By their logic, Obama should be able to sue the AP for profiting off of his likeness. F the AP and all the other soul-sucking leeches who begrudge artists with actual talent.

    PS – To all the haters who feel like Fairey “sold out” and lost his “street cred” by creating this image… if art is not about making a statement the artist believes in, what the hell is it for. And if “selling out” means I don’t have to eat Ramen noodles for a week… sign me up.

  • Jim

    My understanding (limited though it may) of copyright law is that once you change at least 20% of the original image, you’re in the clear. In this case, Fairey completely redesigned the image, using the AP photo as a reference. It’s utterly ridiculous. By their logic, Obama should be able to sue the AP for profiting off of his likeness. F the AP and all the other soul-sucking leeches who begrudge artists with actual talent.

    PS – To all the haters who feel like Fairey “sold out” and lost his “street cred” by creating this image… if art is not about making a statement the artist believes in, what the hell is it for. And if “selling out” means I don’t have to eat Ramen noodles for a week… sign me up.

  • http://www.marenkellydesign.com Maren

    Last I checked, the industry standard was via the “Pricing and Ethical Guidelines” book. Now I haven’t cracked mine since the end of college, but last I checked the 20% rule was valid and true. This is changed way more than 20%- no part of the image is identical! (IE: different color, different texture, etc). They should be honored that such an amazing artist used their photo as inspiration- but he didn’t just take the photo and throw a photoshop filter on it! He created a unique work!

    And I agree with the Warhol talk- Campbells, Marilyn Monroe, no one had a problem with it then! People are just too sue crazy these days……

  • http://www.marenkellydesign.com Maren

    Last I checked, the industry standard was via the “Pricing and Ethical Guidelines” book. Now I haven’t cracked mine since the end of college, but last I checked the 20% rule was valid and true. This is changed way more than 20%- no part of the image is identical! (IE: different color, different texture, etc). They should be honored that such an amazing artist used their photo as inspiration- but he didn’t just take the photo and throw a photoshop filter on it! He created a unique work!

    And I agree with the Warhol talk- Campbells, Marilyn Monroe, no one had a problem with it then! People are just too sue crazy these days……

  • cmdigital

    Sure its about the money. Anyone who says they have not borrowed ideas, or used anothers work as a reference for their own artistic talent is lying.

    Freedom is about expression. He didn’t claim that he took the photo, made an image and sold it, he simply made the image. If we get so nitpicky as to where the original image came from.. then we have a huge number of editorial cartoonists and illustrators to sue for the likenesses of so many celebrities, politicians, and yes even Santa Claus.

    You can draw Santa because someone else drew him first.

    AP pull your head out of your butt. This is stupidity.

    Besides, isn’t a president public domain?

  • cmdigital

    Sure its about the money. Anyone who says they have not borrowed ideas, or used anothers work as a reference for their own artistic talent is lying.

    Freedom is about expression. He didn’t claim that he took the photo, made an image and sold it, he simply made the image. If we get so nitpicky as to where the original image came from.. then we have a huge number of editorial cartoonists and illustrators to sue for the likenesses of so many celebrities, politicians, and yes even Santa Claus.

    You can draw Santa because someone else drew him first.

    AP pull your head out of your butt. This is stupidity.

    Besides, isn’t a president public domain?

  • http://pvdindustrial.com Ian Edward

    If it was ANYONE ELSE, this would be crazy. But it’s not. It’s Shepard. He (and his army of monkeys) rip off work which is intentionally left without restrictions to be used for social justice campaigns and they put them on t-shirts, copyright them and sell them for $35 a pop.

    You can not imagine how infuriating it is to see labour rights images printed on third-world apparel and sold in upscale department stores. Or Nazi death skulls for that matter.

    Re: http://www.art-for-a-change.com/Obey/index.htm

    I know we all “borrow” artwork/photos sometimes as source material. My introduction to design was through stealing images from the internet and using them for street stencils, and I know lost of people who have the same background. Unfortunately, Fairey is STILL doing this. Anyone who can master live trace and a pattern brush (and is willing to blatantly plagiarize and commercialize images from revolutionary movements) can do what he is doing.

    The difference is that most of us “street artists” are still paying the rent pushing paper, answering telephones or stocking shelves… not selling democratic party posters for $75 a piece.

    I’m all for creative commons and open source art. Fairey isn’t.

    (I’m also doing stencils/wheatpasting in Providence, RI and I’m sick to death of being compared to the guy. Really.)

  • http://pvdindustrial.com Ian Edward

    If it was ANYONE ELSE, this would be crazy. But it’s not. It’s Shepard. He (and his army of monkeys) rip off work which is intentionally left without restrictions to be used for social justice campaigns and they put them on t-shirts, copyright them and sell them for $35 a pop.

    You can not imagine how infuriating it is to see labour rights images printed on third-world apparel and sold in upscale department stores. Or Nazi death skulls for that matter.

    Re: http://www.art-for-a-change.com/Obey/index.htm

    I know we all “borrow” artwork/photos sometimes as source material. My introduction to design was through stealing images from the internet and using them for street stencils, and I know lost of people who have the same background. Unfortunately, Fairey is STILL doing this. Anyone who can master live trace and a pattern brush (and is willing to blatantly plagiarize and commercialize images from revolutionary movements) can do what he is doing.

    The difference is that most of us “street artists” are still paying the rent pushing paper, answering telephones or stocking shelves… not selling democratic party posters for $75 a piece.

    I’m all for creative commons and open source art. Fairey isn’t.

    (I’m also doing stencils/wheatpasting in Providence, RI and I’m sick to death of being compared to the guy. Really.)

  • Sir.Yes

    The percentage is there. He shouldn’t be sued. Its being used as a reference photo. There is no longer any trace of the original photo (texture, color, composition, ect.) Do models sue painters if their stuff gets big? no. People need to stop being so money hungry.

  • Sir.Yes

    The percentage is there. He shouldn’t be sued. Its being used as a reference photo. There is no longer any trace of the original photo (texture, color, composition, ect.) Do models sue painters if their stuff gets big? no. People need to stop being so money hungry.

  • http://www.matthodder.com Matt Hodder

    If anything, its getting the photographer more press. More notice = more money. As long as the designer noted and admitted that the photo was a source of inspiration or reference, I’m thinking not just no harm down, more benefit to each party.

  • http://www.matthodder.com Matt Hodder

    If anything, its getting the photographer more press. More notice = more money. As long as the designer noted and admitted that the photo was a source of inspiration or reference, I’m thinking not just no harm down, more benefit to each party.

  • nobahdi

    @ twoeightnine

    Thanks for link.
    I not completely sold either way, so either his art is “working” or he just might be a hack.

  • nobahdi

    @ twoeightnine

    Thanks for link.
    I not completely sold either way, so either his art is “working” or he just might be a hack.

  • BLUEFROG

    The 20% is NOT valid OR true. It is a myth based on taking quotes out of context from the subsections on the Fair Use policy (which this does not fall under either) published by the United States Government. (Also, the reverse of the myth is closer to the truth – it has to do with changing 80% and using 20% of the content though the actual numbers do NOT EXIST.) So who came up with 20%? Not the Government – and they’re the authority, not some trade association literature.

    Be very careful about where you get your legal advice and how it’s presented (if it;’s not the USPTO / Copyright Office). Read (or reread) Tad Crawford’s “Legal Guide for the Visual Artist” closely. Note how much is subtly stated as his opinion, NOT an endorsement from the Copyright Office. A shrewd move on his part (and for a laudable one in my mind).

  • BLUEFROG

    The 20% is NOT valid OR true. It is a myth based on taking quotes out of context from the subsections on the Fair Use policy (which this does not fall under either) published by the United States Government. (Also, the reverse of the myth is closer to the truth – it has to do with changing 80% and using 20% of the content though the actual numbers do NOT EXIST.) So who came up with 20%? Not the Government – and they’re the authority, not some trade association literature.

    Be very careful about where you get your legal advice and how it’s presented (if it;’s not the USPTO / Copyright Office). Read (or reread) Tad Crawford’s “Legal Guide for the Visual Artist” closely. Note how much is subtly stated as his opinion, NOT an endorsement from the Copyright Office. A shrewd move on his part (and for a laudable one in my mind).

  • http://myspace.com/spinnas22 sw8t

    If I were the photographer I would of ben flattered for him taking my picture and making it into a master piece. i understand that he might want a lil of recognition but nothing to get all ‘Im sueing you about”

  • http://myspace.com/spinnas22 sw8t

    If I were the photographer I would of ben flattered for him taking my picture and making it into a master piece. i understand that he might want a lil of recognition but nothing to get all ‘Im sueing you about”

  • http://www.orangefloorstudio.com Juan

    It’s someones face… If I’m going to create a design based on someones image/face/expression, I think it’s a good idea that people can recognize them. Otherwise the purpose will be lost. I think Shepard point was to contribute to what he believed in… and like rob said.. the only similarities is it being Obama in both.

    But I also thought of something… If it is legal to photograph or record in public then shouldn’t the imagery be available for public use? I mean if some guy with a camera can take shots of my fiance’ without her consent. Wouldn’t that warrant full public use of the imagery? how is the photo “theirs” if the person in the photo didn’t have a choice in the first place.

  • http://www.orangefloorstudio.com Juan

    It’s someones face… If I’m going to create a design based on someones image/face/expression, I think it’s a good idea that people can recognize them. Otherwise the purpose will be lost. I think Shepard point was to contribute to what he believed in… and like rob said.. the only similarities is it being Obama in both.

    But I also thought of something… If it is legal to photograph or record in public then shouldn’t the imagery be available for public use? I mean if some guy with a camera can take shots of my fiance’ without her consent. Wouldn’t that warrant full public use of the imagery? how is the photo “theirs” if the person in the photo didn’t have a choice in the first place.

  • Jason

    AP is crazy…If anyone has the rights to Obama’s mug, it is President Obama himself. Like everyone has said in this post, if Fairey had used the image directly or somebody else’ illustration then there would be an issue.

  • Matt27

    The image has been massively adapted. and i’m sure there are other pictures of obama in similar poses that could just as easily have been used!
    I honestly can’t beleive they’re taking legal action over this.

  • Matt27

    The image has been massively adapted. and i’m sure there are other pictures of obama in similar poses that could just as easily have been used!
    I honestly can’t beleive they’re taking legal action over this.

  • Jason

    AP is crazy…If anyone has the rights to Obama’s mug, it is President Obama himself. Like everyone has said in this post, if Fairey had used the image directly or somebody else’ illustration then there would be an issue.

  • http://www.derekgores.com derek gores

    guys, legally this isn’t vague at all. there is no 20% rule or anything like it. as counsel once told me, “it is (the documentation of) your process that protects you.” if your process is googling, you aren’t protected. i recently sold my collage piece of obama from the manifest hope dc show, and my photo source was paid for from getty images. that is how you do it. otherwise you risk what is now happening to shep. he’ll have to pay the photographer.

    now if you change the image 100%, it will never be noticed.

    by the way, the great cause/purpose that drove shep to make the image is irrelevant.

  • http://www.derekgores.com derek gores

    guys, legally this isn’t vague at all. there is no 20% rule or anything like it. as counsel once told me, “it is (the documentation of) your process that protects you.” if your process is googling, you aren’t protected. i recently sold my collage piece of obama from the manifest hope dc show, and my photo source was paid for from getty images. that is how you do it. otherwise you risk what is now happening to shep. he’ll have to pay the photographer.

    now if you change the image 100%, it will never be noticed.

    by the way, the great cause/purpose that drove shep to make the image is irrelevant.

  • http://korbyimagery.com Shanna Korby

    It all comes down to this: How do you categorize this image? Is it illustration? Fine art? Design? Each have a different set of copyright laws. If this is illustration, clear violation. Design, probably should have asked permission. Fine art, perfectly acceptable.

    • Alexa Brosen

      Umm..fine art can also be defined as an illustration..so you have no clue what you are talking about. Art is what a person makes of it, not what society states it is.

  • http://korbyimagery.com Shanna Korby

    It all comes down to this: How do you categorize this image? Is it illustration? Fine art? Design? Each have a different set of copyright laws. If this is illustration, clear violation. Design, probably should have asked permission. Fine art, perfectly acceptable.

  • Pingback: Shepard Fairey in Trouble? - Creattica Daily

  • http://luckyrabbitstudio.com Mark Kerley

    Fairey’s poster did more to elect Obama than did the AP. If he wasn’t so popular, the AP would be totally ignoring him right now. Get over it AP!

  • http://luckyrabbitstudio.com Mark Kerley

    Fairey’s poster did more to elect Obama than did the AP. If he wasn’t so popular, the AP would be totally ignoring him right now. Get over it AP!

  • http://ndemag.com Schuyler

    Got sick of reading after the first 20 posts.

    The AP isn’t going for a cash grab, they don’t need it and Shepard can’t pay what they would need to make it worthwhile. They are trying to be active in defending their copyrights.

    If you are not active in defense it is used as precedence against you in future cases. It doesn’t matter if they win or not, it’s simply important that they stick up for their photographer so that they don’t threaten their ability to defend them in the future.

    And why did they wait? If someone really was making the call, perhaps it was the opposite of what so many people have been hollering about on here. Not that they are trying to ride the Obama gravy train, but that they didn’t want to interrupt a positive, landmark political movement with an esoteric copyright issue.

  • http://ndemag.com Schuyler

    Got sick of reading after the first 20 posts.

    The AP isn’t going for a cash grab, they don’t need it and Shepard can’t pay what they would need to make it worthwhile. They are trying to be active in defending their copyrights.

    If you are not active in defense it is used as precedence against you in future cases. It doesn’t matter if they win or not, it’s simply important that they stick up for their photographer so that they don’t threaten their ability to defend them in the future.

    And why did they wait? If someone really was making the call, perhaps it was the opposite of what so many people have been hollering about on here. Not that they are trying to ride the Obama gravy train, but that they didn’t want to interrupt a positive, landmark political movement with an esoteric copyright issue.

  • juano

    Shepard Fairey has made millions of dollars stealing other peoples work and claiming it as his own. There is nothing “Fair Use” about that.
    http://www.art-for-a-change.com/Obey/index.htm

    Now Shepard Fairey is suing someone for stealing his work!?! What a hypocrite!!!
    http://animalnewyork.com/news/2008/04/shepard-fairey-threatens-to-su.php

  • juano

    Shepard Fairey has made millions of dollars stealing other peoples work and claiming it as his own. There is nothing “Fair Use” about that.
    http://www.art-for-a-change.com/Obey/index.htm

    Now Shepard Fairey is suing someone for stealing his work!?! What a hypocrite!!!
    http://animalnewyork.com/news/2008/04/shepard-fairey-threatens-to-su.php

  • BLUEFROG

    @Juan: You’re talking about a different issue here. Someone can take a picture without consent but it’s use will be ethically limited without a Model Release. To use the photo with your fiance recognizable (as you say “is a good thing”) is to invite a lawsuit over slander / defamation / maybe a punch in the face. (* And for the “painter owing God over the landscape” from an earlier comment – yes there are Property Releases as well!)

    The other side is that NO, it DOES NOT warrant “full public use of the image”. The discourteous photographer OWNS THE COPYRIGHT to the photo the moment he takes the picture (again, check your Copyright Law).

    @et al: Do you want someone taking a picture of your house, Photoshopping Nazi progaganda all over it and putting it on a CD cover? Or picking up a photo off a mySpace account, compositing the head on a nude body (“Hey, they changed it more than 20%! FAIL), and putting it on a porn site? Aren’t those just freedom of expression? NO.

  • BLUEFROG

    @Juan: You’re talking about a different issue here. Someone can take a picture without consent but it’s use will be ethically limited without a Model Release. To use the photo with your fiance recognizable (as you say “is a good thing”) is to invite a lawsuit over slander / defamation / maybe a punch in the face. (* And for the “painter owing God over the landscape” from an earlier comment – yes there are Property Releases as well!)

    The other side is that NO, it DOES NOT warrant “full public use of the image”. The discourteous photographer OWNS THE COPYRIGHT to the photo the moment he takes the picture (again, check your Copyright Law).

    @et al: Do you want someone taking a picture of your house, Photoshopping Nazi progaganda all over it and putting it on a CD cover? Or picking up a photo off a mySpace account, compositing the head on a nude body (“Hey, they changed it more than 20%! FAIL), and putting it on a porn site? Aren’t those just freedom of expression? NO.

  • http://forthelose.org Wordpress Themes

    Honestly, I don’t think he should be sued. It’s not like he used the photograph itself in his picture, he painted his own image using the photo as a reference. It’s completely his work.

  • http://forthelose.org Wordpress Themes

    Honestly, I don’t think he should be sued. It’s not like he used the photograph itself in his picture, he painted his own image using the photo as a reference. It’s completely his work.

  • http://insanitybrush.com whacko

    The AP Claim that they hold the copyright for the photo of Barack Obama taken in 2006. No one disputes that, and I think if Shepard Fairey had actually reused that photo, as a photo, that he would be in violation of that copyright.

    However the image Fairey created obviously differs extensively from the photo, both in the graphic rendering of Obama and the colored background and text.

    There have been thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of cases where designers (Not just GoMedia ;) have taken a bit of a photo reworked it in some way to make an element for their designs.I think that Fairey’s reputation, and the success of the image has just made him a target for the AP, who think they can capitalize on the similarity between their 2006 photo, and the 2008 posters that used the photo as a reference.

    In the end I think it will come down to whether or not the AP has rights to Barack Obama’s _likeness_ which they obviously don’t.

  • http://insanitybrush.com whacko

    The AP Claim that they hold the copyright for the photo of Barack Obama taken in 2006. No one disputes that, and I think if Shepard Fairey had actually reused that photo, as a photo, that he would be in violation of that copyright.

    However the image Fairey created obviously differs extensively from the photo, both in the graphic rendering of Obama and the colored background and text.

    There have been thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of cases where designers (Not just GoMedia ;) have taken a bit of a photo reworked it in some way to make an element for their designs.I think that Fairey’s reputation, and the success of the image has just made him a target for the AP, who think they can capitalize on the similarity between their 2006 photo, and the 2008 posters that used the photo as a reference.

    In the end I think it will come down to whether or not the AP has rights to Barack Obama’s _likeness_ which they obviously don’t.

  • juano

    “it will come down to whether or not the AP has rights to Barack Obama’s _likeness_ which they obviously don’t.”

    The AP does not own the rights to the likeness of Obama, but they do own the rights to a photo that one of their photographers took.

    If you take one of Shepard Fairey’s images and present it as your own Shepard Fairey will sue you.
    http://animalnewyork.com/news/2008/04/shepard-fairey-threatens-to-su.php

  • juano

    “it will come down to whether or not the AP has rights to Barack Obama’s _likeness_ which they obviously don’t.”

    The AP does not own the rights to the likeness of Obama, but they do own the rights to a photo that one of their photographers took.

    If you take one of Shepard Fairey’s images and present it as your own Shepard Fairey will sue you.
    http://animalnewyork.com/news/2008/04/shepard-fairey-threatens-to-su.php

  • http://www.noindustries.com Dave

    I love his work ,I own 4 screen posters, and 3 out of 4 were his treatment of someones original photo.

    If it were my photo, I would want credit and some compensation if it were used and sold in this manner. The composition is only a slight degree off and all the lines match up almost perfectly.

    At this point there is probably a photoshop action out there that can turn any photo into a cheap “Obey” with the click of a button

    I use copyrighted photos for reference (by referency I mean tracing it in illustrator or on a lightbox to be part of an illustration, exactly as Fairey did in this instance) as have most of us. I think that if Fairey doesn’t get sued we will a breath a bit easier.

  • http://www.noindustries.com Dave

    I love his work ,I own 4 screen posters, and 3 out of 4 were his treatment of someones original photo.

    If it were my photo, I would want credit and some compensation if it were used and sold in this manner. The composition is only a slight degree off and all the lines match up almost perfectly.

    At this point there is probably a photoshop action out there that can turn any photo into a cheap “Obey” with the click of a button

    I use copyrighted photos for reference (by referency I mean tracing it in illustrator or on a lightbox to be part of an illustration, exactly as Fairey did in this instance) as have most of us. I think that if Fairey doesn’t get sued we will a breath a bit easier.

  • k

    a letter from obama

    dear ap
    i’ve spent a lot on my freaking campaign over the last few years, and i just realized that news organizations like yours are simply minting franklins by putting my face (and my words) onto newsprint. this needs change too. i would expect you to donate 25% of all your earnings, for the period 2006-09 accrued by use of my photographs and reports, to my campaign manager. the proceeds will then be passed over to mr fairey as a reward for his googling (and cs3) talent, who in turn will stuff your legal team’s you-know-what.
    looking forward to a quick reply and a quicker compensation
    yours sincerely
    b.o.

  • k

    a letter from obama

    dear ap
    i’ve spent a lot on my freaking campaign over the last few years, and i just realized that news organizations like yours are simply minting franklins by putting my face (and my words) onto newsprint. this needs change too. i would expect you to donate 25% of all your earnings, for the period 2006-09 accrued by use of my photographs and reports, to my campaign manager. the proceeds will then be passed over to mr fairey as a reward for his googling (and cs3) talent, who in turn will stuff your legal team’s you-know-what.
    looking forward to a quick reply and a quicker compensation
    yours sincerely
    b.o.

  • http://www.noindustries.com Dave

    Also, the argument that the photographer shouldn’t sue because it’s an honor to have his photo re-interpreted by Fairey is insane.

    If i trace the photo with a crayon on a lightbox and it looked like crap but gained mass exposure would the argument be the same?

    I was in a band and we had a song stolen, music and lyrics word for word, by a more popular band on a fairly large label. Some people where pissed at us for standing up for our rights because they liked the other band more then they liked us. We didn’t sue and reached an agreement in the spirit of punk rock and youthful ignorance.

    For anyone using this argument, it’s utter bullshit and I hope one day you have something you create and love “used as a reference” by someone massively more popular then yourself. It will never be yours again.

  • http://www.noindustries.com Dave

    Also, the argument that the photographer shouldn’t sue because it’s an honor to have his photo re-interpreted by Fairey is insane.

    If i trace the photo with a crayon on a lightbox and it looked like crap but gained mass exposure would the argument be the same?

    I was in a band and we had a song stolen, music and lyrics word for word, by a more popular band on a fairly large label. Some people where pissed at us for standing up for our rights because they liked the other band more then they liked us. We didn’t sue and reached an agreement in the spirit of punk rock and youthful ignorance.

    For anyone using this argument, it’s utter bullshit and I hope one day you have something you create and love “used as a reference” by someone massively more popular then yourself. It will never be yours again.

  • rich lehrer

    Perhaps everyone should do their art or photography for free though occasionally i need to make some money to pay the rent….and if its ok to do it cause AP is the BIG bad guy does that mean anyone who has less than us has the right to take what’s ours……

  • rich lehrer

    Perhaps everyone should do their art or photography for free though occasionally i need to make some money to pay the rent….and if its ok to do it cause AP is the BIG bad guy does that mean anyone who has less than us has the right to take what’s ours……

  • k

    another letter from obama

    dear mr fairey
    i sincerely regret the anguish google has caused you. but your worry is short-lived as i have a bailout plan for you too. my team is working day and night to ensure that you are well compensated for your talent. you may then share some of the proceeds with ap.
    my concerns, at this stage, are however different. no one’s been able to figure out how my face was altered to such an extent. is it ps, ai or both in action? may i suggest you quickly draw up a tutorial and post it on gomediazine. free of cost, of course.
    yours sincerely
    b.o.
    (ps: may i also suggest you use yahoo next time. you will not end up with any of such recognizable images.)

  • k

    another letter from obama

    dear mr fairey
    i sincerely regret the anguish google has caused you. but your worry is short-lived as i have a bailout plan for you too. my team is working day and night to ensure that you are well compensated for your talent. you may then share some of the proceeds with ap.
    my concerns, at this stage, are however different. no one’s been able to figure out how my face was altered to such an extent. is it ps, ai or both in action? may i suggest you quickly draw up a tutorial and post it on gomediazine. free of cost, of course.
    yours sincerely
    b.o.
    (ps: may i also suggest you use yahoo next time. you will not end up with any of such recognizable images.)

  • david maroto

    i think that he should’t be sued at all, ’cause, ok he used the picture as a reference, but he use it as a reference to his own illustration, he`s not publishing the pic as his own, he is publishing his own illustration his own work, i think it`s so simple to understand, obviously, the poster he made gets more the attention of the people than the picture, and maybe just maybe that pisses off AP

  • david maroto

    i think that he should’t be sued at all, ’cause, ok he used the picture as a reference, but he use it as a reference to his own illustration, he`s not publishing the pic as his own, he is publishing his own illustration his own work, i think it`s so simple to understand, obviously, the poster he made gets more the attention of the people than the picture, and maybe just maybe that pisses off AP

  • http://www.orangefloorstudio.com Juan

    @Bluefrog,

    I understand the copyright laws, you missed my point… What I was trying to get at is the loop hole that is obviously there.. I wasn’t suggesting facts about copyright laws… My suggestion was based off of the leverage a photographer has, whereas the “scenery” beyond their lens doesn’t have much of any…

  • http://www.orangefloorstudio.com Juan

    @Bluefrog,

    I understand the copyright laws, you missed my point… What I was trying to get at is the loop hole that is obviously there.. I wasn’t suggesting facts about copyright laws… My suggestion was based off of the leverage a photographer has, whereas the “scenery” beyond their lens doesn’t have much of any…

  • BLUEFROG

    @Dave:
    “the argument that the photographer shouldn’t sue because it’s an honor to have his photo re-interpreted by Fairey is insane.” – This is worship, not logic.

    “For anyone using this argument, it’s utter bullshit and I hope one day you have something you create and love “used as a reference” by someone massively more popular then yourself. It will never be yours again.”… Exactly!! Hopefully someone will listen to you (they’re ignoring the legal arguments I’m presenting) – lol.

  • BLUEFROG

    @Dave:
    “the argument that the photographer shouldn’t sue because it’s an honor to have his photo re-interpreted by Fairey is insane.” – This is worship, not logic.

    “For anyone using this argument, it’s utter bullshit and I hope one day you have something you create and love “used as a reference” by someone massively more popular then yourself. It will never be yours again.”… Exactly!! Hopefully someone will listen to you (they’re ignoring the legal arguments I’m presenting) – lol.

  • BLUEFROG

    @Juan: I see what you’re saying. And sorry if I offended you – it wasn’t my intent at all.

  • BLUEFROG

    @Juan: I see what you’re saying. And sorry if I offended you – it wasn’t my intent at all.

  • http://www.orangefloorstudio.com Juan

    @BLUEFROG

    None taken dude, I just needed to make myself more clear… I’m not ignorant to the laws of Copyrighting. And I think some of them are Bs and were created to appease rather than establish fairness…

    what is fair anyways… Also, food for thought. If the laws state that some sort of model release documentation is needed… do you think that is actually taking place all the time? Or is that just there to refer back to when someone is pissed about their picture being taken and used? To expand on reality, It makes me think of the celebrity who is at war with their paparazzi buddies..

    I guess I’m being the devils advocate… haha..

  • http://www.orangefloorstudio.com Juan

    @BLUEFROG

    None taken dude, I just needed to make myself more clear… I’m not ignorant to the laws of Copyrighting. And I think some of them are Bs and were created to appease rather than establish fairness…

    what is fair anyways… Also, food for thought. If the laws state that some sort of model release documentation is needed… do you think that is actually taking place all the time? Or is that just there to refer back to when someone is pissed about their picture being taken and used? To expand on reality, It makes me think of the celebrity who is at war with their paparazzi buddies..

    I guess I’m being the devils advocate… haha..

  • http://korbyimagery.com Shanna Korby

    @juan

    You are talking about copyright for photography which has an entirely separate set of rules. Photos of famous people are editorial in content and don’t need a model release.

    Paintings of famous people that are based on photographs have to follow the copyright laws that protect the photographer. Shepard did not copy Obama from real life, he copied the photo.

    It will be very interesting to see how this turns out.

  • http://korbyimagery.com Shanna Korby

    @juan

    You are talking about copyright for photography which has an entirely separate set of rules. Photos of famous people are editorial in content and don’t need a model release.

    Paintings of famous people that are based on photographs have to follow the copyright laws that protect the photographer. Shepard did not copy Obama from real life, he copied the photo.

    It will be very interesting to see how this turns out.

  • http://www.orangefloorstudio.com Juan

    @Shanna Korby

    How do we know that is the actual photograph Shepard used? I found many more that resembled the same Photograph.

    Again, I’m not talking about Copyright laws… I’m suggesting or rather expressing my opinion of this lopsided issue. The rights of the Photographer? What about the rights of the person you was slapped by a flash or had their personal space invaded.. I’m not positive that the Copy Right Laws help to balance things on both end. Ultimately I don’t care what the laws say..(which some posts keep wanting to make sure everyone has a thorough understanding of these laws as if they are fair.)

    And if AP waited to go after Shepard until after the election as to not blemish Obama, I have to assume that they only have concern for their own ideas and don’t give a hoot about “HOPE”…

  • http://www.orangefloorstudio.com Juan

    @Shanna Korby

    How do we know that is the actual photograph Shepard used? I found many more that resembled the same Photograph.

    Again, I’m not talking about Copyright laws… I’m suggesting or rather expressing my opinion of this lopsided issue. The rights of the Photographer? What about the rights of the person you was slapped by a flash or had their personal space invaded.. I’m not positive that the Copy Right Laws help to balance things on both end. Ultimately I don’t care what the laws say..(which some posts keep wanting to make sure everyone has a thorough understanding of these laws as if they are fair.)

    And if AP waited to go after Shepard until after the election as to not blemish Obama, I have to assume that they only have concern for their own ideas and don’t give a hoot about “HOPE”…

  • http://ndemag.com Schuyler

    @Juan

    “How do we know that is the actual photograph Shepard used?”

    He said it was.

  • http://ndemag.com Schuyler

    @Juan

    “How do we know that is the actual photograph Shepard used?”

    He said it was.

  • Pingback: Should Shepard Fairey be sued?

  • Gavin

    http://www.art-for-a-change.com/Obey/index.htm

    he makes a couple of changes and everyone loves him.

  • Gavin

    http://www.art-for-a-change.com/Obey/index.htm

    he makes a couple of changes and everyone loves him.

  • http://www.jbirdistheword.com jbirdistheword

    this is crazy. yes it looks like the particular picture in question. however if i were to go to google images or even getty images i could find all kinds of obama pictures of him looking this way or that. to say he blatantly copied the picture may be true BUT there are millions of pictures of him popping up all over the place. in my opinion they will have a hard time proving he copied this one picture for reference.

  • http://www.jbirdistheword.com jbirdistheword

    this is crazy. yes it looks like the particular picture in question. however if i were to go to google images or even getty images i could find all kinds of obama pictures of him looking this way or that. to say he blatantly copied the picture may be true BUT there are millions of pictures of him popping up all over the place. in my opinion they will have a hard time proving he copied this one picture for reference.

  • Donald Giannatti

    Yes. He should.
    If I steal your car, and paint it another color, I am not in the gray area of ‘fair use’ because the foul was committed when I took your car.

    Fairey TOOK a photograph from someone else, knowing full right what is involved in copyright and the photographers ability to earn a living. He then simply co-opted it for himself. He took it.

    Intellectual property is just as important as any other property. It must stay so. And I can imagine how Fairey would feel if someone took one of his pieces, stuck it in Photoshop and added a filter or two, then made an icon of some skinhead group.

    Intellectually you cannot allow one because you like and disallow another because you don’t. Then our laws become at the whim of who is in charge. That doesn’t usually work out too well.

  • Donald Giannatti

    Yes. He should.
    If I steal your car, and paint it another color, I am not in the gray area of ‘fair use’ because the foul was committed when I took your car.

    Fairey TOOK a photograph from someone else, knowing full right what is involved in copyright and the photographers ability to earn a living. He then simply co-opted it for himself. He took it.

    Intellectual property is just as important as any other property. It must stay so. And I can imagine how Fairey would feel if someone took one of his pieces, stuck it in Photoshop and added a filter or two, then made an icon of some skinhead group.

    Intellectually you cannot allow one because you like and disallow another because you don’t. Then our laws become at the whim of who is in charge. That doesn’t usually work out too well.

  • Mr.Anderson

    Provided that this is being viewed in the context of contemporary artwork then one could argue appropriation and probably get away with it as the image is a dangerously close likeness but not exact.

  • Mr.Anderson

    Provided that this is being viewed in the context of contemporary artwork then one could argue appropriation and probably get away with it as the image is a dangerously close likeness but not exact.

  • Gavin

    just wondering why my comment has been in the awaiting moderation tray for o long and many other pots have been added?

  • Gavin

    just wondering why my comment has been in the awaiting moderation tray for o long and many other pots have been added?

  • http://alisonfoxall.com Alison

    This is stupid. AP is stupid. Clearly the photo was just used as a reference, as all artists do when they draw or illustrate something traditionally. Now, if it was the same image with a photoshop filter applied to it and some other effects, THEN i would say, okay now that is copyright infringement.

  • http://alisonfoxall.com Alison

    This is stupid. AP is stupid. Clearly the photo was just used as a reference, as all artists do when they draw or illustrate something traditionally. Now, if it was the same image with a photoshop filter applied to it and some other effects, THEN i would say, okay now that is copyright infringement.

  • Pat Arlt

    Fresh out off communication law last term and I think the point that everyone is missing is that the AP “never licensed it or used it officially” so they cant actually collect any damages. Right?

    So AP cant even prove the copyright is theirs, they cant collect damages on a photo they never tried to make money on.

    As for the fair use argument I think it stands up. A quick look at Wikipedias copyright article and my communication law notes will prove that. The work is clearly transformative and culturally significant, had no impact on the market value of APs photograph.

    If you ask me there is no way this will stand up in court.

  • Lumzor

    Message to AP : GROW UP! FFS

  • Lumzor

    Message to AP : GROW UP! FFS

  • Pat Arlt

    Fresh out off communication law last term and I think the point that everyone is missing is that the AP “never licensed it or used it officially” so they cant actually collect any damages. Right?

    So AP cant even prove the copyright is theirs, they cant collect damages on a photo they never tried to make money on.

    As for the fair use argument I think it stands up. A quick look at Wikipedias copyright article and my communication law notes will prove that. The work is clearly transformative and culturally significant, had no impact on the market value of APs photograph.

    If you ask me there is no way this will stand up in court.

  • http://www.visual-blade.com Daquan Wright

    If it was someone else, they wouldn’t care. Just because someone has a rank, that’s the only reason it’s wrong?

    I already see where this came from, where it’s going, and I think it needs to get dropped…real fast. It’s a piece of art, they could just ask him to take it down and whatnot. Like anyone has the money to get sued…

  • http://www.visual-blade.com Daquan Wright

    If it was someone else, they wouldn’t care. Just because someone has a rank, that’s the only reason it’s wrong?

    I already see where this came from, where it’s going, and I think it needs to get dropped…real fast. It’s a piece of art, they could just ask him to take it down and whatnot. Like anyone has the money to get sued…

  • Serg Chernata

    I think this is a 50/50 situation. The artist should have been more careful and the owner of the photo is rather greedy.

    Since day one, when I began designing I always tried to take my own photos for reference or get them with legal permission for certain things. To me it’s the right thing to do. I would not want somebody to use my photos and my designs for reference, believing that if they alter it just enough they could claim the whole thing their own.

  • http://www.steelernation.com David

    I can see the issue from both sides. On one hand you have some designers just outright stealing material from others and passing it off as their own work (although I’m not saying that’s what Fairey did here).

    On the other hand you have corporations seeing a good idea that they didn’t think of and are trying to muscle someone who doesn’t have the financial resources to fight them.

    I live in Pittsburgh and after the Steelers Super Bowl win, many people have been designing posters and t-shirts celebrating the victory. One designer in particular got a cease and desist letter from the NFL because they claim his design could confuse the public into thinking that it is an officially licensed NFL product. However, the design doesn’t contain any reference to “Steelers”, doesn’t use the logo, or even an image of a player.

    So what is the NFL complaining about? They are claiming ownership of the black and gold color combination. That’s right, the NFL now claim to own all team color combinations. Black and gold, red, white and blue, green and white…when you use those colors in those combinations, the NFL claims that they own it!

    Why are they getting away with this nonsense? Because the designer is just regular guy like you and me and doesn’t have the financial ability to hire lawyers to fight for him in court.

  • http://www.steelernation.com David

    I can see the issue from both sides. On one hand you have some designers just outright stealing material from others and passing it off as their own work (although I’m not saying that’s what Fairey did here).

    On the other hand you have corporations seeing a good idea that they didn’t think of and are trying to muscle someone who doesn’t have the financial resources to fight them.

    I live in Pittsburgh and after the Steelers Super Bowl win, many people have been designing posters and t-shirts celebrating the victory. One designer in particular got a cease and desist letter from the NFL because they claim his design could confuse the public into thinking that it is an officially licensed NFL product. However, the design doesn’t contain any reference to “Steelers”, doesn’t use the logo, or even an image of a player.

    So what is the NFL complaining about? They are claiming ownership of the black and gold color combination. That’s right, the NFL now claim to own all team color combinations. Black and gold, red, white and blue, green and white…when you use those colors in those combinations, the NFL claims that they own it!

    Why are they getting away with this nonsense? Because the designer is just regular guy like you and me and doesn’t have the financial ability to hire lawyers to fight for him in court.

  • brittney

    I’m sorry but there are a million photos of Obama in that position, this one just happens to have a flag behind it and it was used over and over again into notoriety. It is a person’s FACE. Honestly?! Neither the photographer nor the artist own the rights to Obama’s face in a certain position. And from the standpoint of a photographer, not to dis anyone’s work, but that was a lucky shot. Sometimes in photography you just have to admit when a shit was you and when a shot was pure luck and Obama gazing upward with a flag behind his head was LUCK. It wasn’t even that imaginative. This photo http://www.boldaslove.us/images/barack_obama_journaltimes_photo.jpg is Obama’s face in very similar form, just not with a turned torso. And I didn’t even have to dig to find that!

    This entire argument just makes me sick. Honestly? Let’s hear what Obama has to say.

  • brittney

    I’m sorry but there are a million photos of Obama in that position, this one just happens to have a flag behind it and it was used over and over again into notoriety. It is a person’s FACE. Honestly?! Neither the photographer nor the artist own the rights to Obama’s face in a certain position. And from the standpoint of a photographer, not to dis anyone’s work, but that was a lucky shot. Sometimes in photography you just have to admit when a shit was you and when a shot was pure luck and Obama gazing upward with a flag behind his head was LUCK. It wasn’t even that imaginative. This photo http://www.boldaslove.us/images/barack_obama_journaltimes_photo.jpg is Obama’s face in very similar form, just not with a turned torso. And I didn’t even have to dig to find that!

    This entire argument just makes me sick. Honestly? Let’s hear what Obama has to say.

  • Gavin

    I posted this link in this thread last night….
    http://www.art-for-a-change.com/Obey/index.htm

    why are none of my comments finding there way onto the post? I have bought numerous vectors from the site, but feel like it is turning into an old boys club…

    shame

  • Gavin

    I posted this link in this thread last night….
    http://www.art-for-a-change.com/Obey/index.htm

    why are none of my comments finding there way onto the post? I have bought numerous vectors from the site, but feel like it is turning into an old boys club…

    shame

  • Amatatomba

    Shepard Fairey put enough of his own touch on the image that he should be in the clear. The photograph itself is not what made the poster. It was his technique and the design of it. The AP is just looking to make some money of his success. He admitted he didn’t take the reference photograph and he didn’t try to hide the fact that he just found it.

    Just a random fact, but Shepard Fairey went to the same high school I’m about to graduate from.

  • Amatatomba

    Shepard Fairey put enough of his own touch on the image that he should be in the clear. The photograph itself is not what made the poster. It was his technique and the design of it. The AP is just looking to make some money of his success. He admitted he didn’t take the reference photograph and he didn’t try to hide the fact that he just found it.

    Just a random fact, but Shepard Fairey went to the same high school I’m about to graduate from.

  • http://blog.wardelldesign.com/ Wardell

    From the moment I heard this story I’ve thought it was a cash grab, especially considering the fact that the artist didn’t make any financial gain from the art work. If the artist has to pay the photographer for referencing his photo, should the photographer have to pay Obama for using profiting from his image?

  • http://blog.wardelldesign.com/ Wardell

    From the moment I heard this story I’ve thought it was a cash grab, especially considering the fact that the artist didn’t make any financial gain from the art work. If the artist has to pay the photographer for referencing his photo, should the photographer have to pay Obama for using profiting from his image?

  • Serg Chernata

    I think this is a 50/50 situation. The artist should have been more careful and the owner of the photo is rather greedy.

    Since day one, when I began designing I always tried to take my own photos for reference or get them with legal permission for certain things. To me it’s the right thing to do. I would not want somebody to use my photos and my designs for reference, believing that if they alter it just enough they could claim the whole thing their own.

  • http://www.noindustries.com Dave

    This thread has me seriously conflicted. Fairey rarely creates images that are 100% his own. This is no secret, just do a search for “propaganda posters” and you’ll find large chunks of the original work he co-opted into his designs (and I think he’s a great designer). Most of which are 50+ years old or more.

    It has never been a problem to me due to the fact that if you’ve ever taken an art history course or liked punk rock and old school rap, you always knew where the “borrowed images” came from. It was intentionally obvious on Fairey’s part.

    Credit didn’t have to be given because the images where already iconic and well known to artist and designers, like if I re-painted the Mona Lisa with a mohawk in a battlefield, I wouldn’t have to tell anyone Da Vinci provided the original material. But when some nobody provides the source material, composition etc…they should be credited.

    Forget the specific parties involved. Let’s say you took a great picture of some random Bum. A picture you are proud of. The next week Paris Hilton (or some other famous idiot) took your Bum photo and traced it in illustrator. Then screen printed 10,000,000 t-shirts and the whole of America wants one of HER fantasic Bum t-shirts. Would you want credit for the original photo? Compensation?

  • http://www.noindustries.com Dave

    This thread has me seriously conflicted. Fairey rarely creates images that are 100% his own. This is no secret, just do a search for “propaganda posters” and you’ll find large chunks of the original work he co-opted into his designs (and I think he’s a great designer). Most of which are 50+ years old or more.

    It has never been a problem to me due to the fact that if you’ve ever taken an art history course or liked punk rock and old school rap, you always knew where the “borrowed images” came from. It was intentionally obvious on Fairey’s part.

    Credit didn’t have to be given because the images where already iconic and well known to artist and designers, like if I re-painted the Mona Lisa with a mohawk in a battlefield, I wouldn’t have to tell anyone Da Vinci provided the original material. But when some nobody provides the source material, composition etc…they should be credited.

    Forget the specific parties involved. Let’s say you took a great picture of some random Bum. A picture you are proud of. The next week Paris Hilton (or some other famous idiot) took your Bum photo and traced it in illustrator. Then screen printed 10,000,000 t-shirts and the whole of America wants one of HER fantasic Bum t-shirts. Would you want credit for the original photo? Compensation?

  • http://hiddencreativity.tumblr.com Geoff

    Well, I’ve always gone by the “40%” rule…if you change and manipulate anything at least 40%, it is therefore a “New” creation and no longer is under any copyright protection…

    May not be totally 100% legal, but I’ve always slept well at night…besides isn’t there the whole “Public Domain” idea where if it is on the web it is fair game?

  • http://hiddencreativity.tumblr.com Geoff

    Well, I’ve always gone by the “40%” rule…if you change and manipulate anything at least 40%, it is therefore a “New” creation and no longer is under any copyright protection…

    May not be totally 100% legal, but I’ve always slept well at night…besides isn’t there the whole “Public Domain” idea where if it is on the web it is fair game?

  • Anthony

    I think it’s funny that while he was campaigning no one was crying about his image everywhere, but now that he’s president, it’s a big deal!

  • Anthony

    I think it’s funny that while he was campaigning no one was crying about his image everywhere, but now that he’s president, it’s a big deal!

  • bryan

    I dont know what AP thinks but, does Duchamp get sue by adding mustache on a Monalisa? even if they turn the world upside down, If fairey use the photo as it is? then he get sued, but if he used it as a reference an inspiration, can’t they see that it is different. They are just click of a shutter while Fairey is in diff. level. I see that people in AP is a MORON.

  • bryan

    I dont know what AP thinks but, does Duchamp get sue by adding mustache on a Monalisa? even if they turn the world upside down, If fairey use the photo as it is? then he get sued, but if he used it as a reference an inspiration, can’t they see that it is different. They are just click of a shutter while Fairey is in diff. level. I see that people in AP is a MORON.

  • Hunter Prescott

    Seriously, this is a joke. First of all, using the likeness of a public figure is public domain. Using an image that is copyrighted, no 2 way about it, is an infringement on law. I think Shepards work is not infringing on the law in any way what so ever. His art is, if anything, only inspired by the original picture. Good luck getting this one to stick.

  • Hunter Prescott

    Seriously, this is a joke. First of all, using the likeness of a public figure is public domain. Using an image that is copyrighted, no 2 way about it, is an infringement on law. I think Shepards work is not infringing on the law in any way what so ever. His art is, if anything, only inspired by the original picture. Good luck getting this one to stick.

  • baddrawingblock

    Just some views on this topic.. something that i never seen expressed..

    Some expressed the opinion that the original picture was used as a reference. I wonder what happens if your reproduction happens to be really good, good enough to be passed off as an original? Like say a pencil sketch that is really realistic? Or how about a digital painting? What happens then?

    Also considering this is the picture of the president.. Pretty much the most photographed person of the year. is there really an angle of the president’s mug where a picture (and copyright) has not been taken? Going by this.. google earth is going to pretty much own the copyright pants off most of maps in production

  • baddrawingblock

    Just some views on this topic.. something that i never seen expressed..

    Some expressed the opinion that the original picture was used as a reference. I wonder what happens if your reproduction happens to be really good, good enough to be passed off as an original? Like say a pencil sketch that is really realistic? Or how about a digital painting? What happens then?

    Also considering this is the picture of the president.. Pretty much the most photographed person of the year. is there really an angle of the president’s mug where a picture (and copyright) has not been taken? Going by this.. google earth is going to pretty much own the copyright pants off most of maps in production

  • Pete

    I believe Picasso said; “Good artists copy, great artists steal”.

    Besides, after overlaying both images, it’s clear that the photo was just used as a point of reference. If I draw a tree, I don’t expect to have to pay the owner.

  • Pete

    I believe Picasso said; “Good artists copy, great artists steal”.

    Besides, after overlaying both images, it’s clear that the photo was just used as a point of reference. If I draw a tree, I don’t expect to have to pay the owner.

  • http://www.gomedia.us Jeff Finley

    Lots of really good comments, it’s been a pleasure reading all of them. And those of you who are “awaiting moderation” – we approve all comments unless they’re some sort of spam.

  • http://www.gomedia.us Jeff Finley

    Lots of really good comments, it’s been a pleasure reading all of them. And those of you who are “awaiting moderation” – we approve all comments unless they’re some sort of spam.

  • Tyler Melendez

    I would have to say AP is just after money. Not only are all of the colors different but even the outline isn’t exact. It looks like he redrew it(didn’t trace).

    What if obama made that same pose(not exact like this poster) and some took a picture with a blue gel strobe at 9 o’clock and a red gel strobe at 3 o’clock and put a red and white background behind him? Someone snapped the picture would it be infringement?

    Nothing about this poster is exactly like the image. Colors, composition, and outline are all different.

    If Vanilla Ice can steal Queen’s beat just by adding an extra beat than I say this is in the clear.

  • http://www.flamingunicornskeleton.com JDT

    This article and thread is unnecessary. For one… Of course he changed the image enough. One is a rendered screen-print and the other is a photograph. Two… He didn’t make any money from it. He gave it away to promote Obama. This is common knowledge.

  • http://www.flamingunicornskeleton.com JDT

    This article and thread is unnecessary. For one… Of course he changed the image enough. One is a rendered screen-print and the other is a photograph. Two… He didn’t make any money from it. He gave it away to promote Obama. This is common knowledge.

  • illastr8

    He should have just stuck with fr8s like the good o’le days!!!

  • illastr8

    He should have just stuck with fr8s like the good o’le days!!!

  • http://www.gomedia.us katie
  • http://www.gomedia.us katie
  • Joe

    I don’t think he should be sued for the picture….he should be sued for false advertising. HOPE…LOL that is funny.

  • Joe

    I don’t think he should be sued for the picture….he should be sued for false advertising. HOPE…LOL that is funny.

  • Michael

    It is someone else’s photograph and if he didn’t ask for permission and get it then it’s infringement. I do think it’s silly that they waited so long and no one would even know about the image if Fairey hadn’t used it, but it’s someone else property no matter if it’s AP’s or the photographer. I think as an artist Fairey should have respected the fact someone else made the original and asked that person/entity for permission. As for “he made the artwork people”, even in the illegal world of street art go to extremes on people biting their work or style. People get their a$$e$ beat over that sort of thing all the time. Maybe we should just cane Shepard and get it over with.

  • Michael

    It is someone else’s photograph and if he didn’t ask for permission and get it then it’s infringement. I do think it’s silly that they waited so long and no one would even know about the image if Fairey hadn’t used it, but it’s someone else property no matter if it’s AP’s or the photographer. I think as an artist Fairey should have respected the fact someone else made the original and asked that person/entity for permission. As for “he made the artwork people”, even in the illegal world of street art go to extremes on people biting their work or style. People get their a$$e$ beat over that sort of thing all the time. Maybe we should just cane Shepard and get it over with.

  • http://www.pairodime.com Benito Juarez

    I remember my buddy from the Art Institute took some photos with his new “digital camera” (back then 1 mxpl was a luxury) – then he traced it with some admirable style and turned it in as part of his class work. I said “thats amazing!” then I realized it was traced – and I lost all respect.

    You see I have a traditional fine art background – taught by Jesuits. We learned figure drawing with conte, mono prints, still life painting, sculpture, etc. I guess I came from the learned process of figure drawing by way of referencing my own visual interpretation of life (or abstract thought). If I could not understand the folds of one’s eyelids – my work looked less lifelike. This was the humbleness I was willing to take. To this day – like many comic book artists – I prefer to interpret the reality that was conjured in my mind after experiencing a visual reference (such as a bridge downtown or a portrait in the newspaper or google for that matter).

    As I became more versed with the principals and medium of graphic design, collage, music production (with samples), I realized that my buddy was truly innovative. He created something unique that no human would have ever experienced without him creating that interpretation.

    I still think the artwork makes more of a personal impact to me when the artist chooses to forgo near identical likeness – they instead use the reference from one or many sources – then piece them back together in their own personal ability to interpret that visual imagery.

    None the less – Shepard’s work is a unique piece of art taken from reference – as most all of his work is – that never would have existed without his interpretation – and for that I am thankful. I love his work and the OBEY project (I’ve been in the pose since – it read “Cover the Earth” like the old Shermin Williams paint can).

    AP needs to accept the fact that more and more humans are gaining tools to create art – with computers in almost every household. We cannot and should not stop anybody from creating Art. The more Art that is created – the more we can experience as humans.

    LIVE Art! It’s not a choice anymore.

  • http://www.pairodime.com Benito Juarez

    I remember my buddy from the Art Institute took some photos with his new “digital camera” (back then 1 mxpl was a luxury) – then he traced it with some admirable style and turned it in as part of his class work. I said “thats amazing!” then I realized it was traced – and I lost all respect.

    You see I have a traditional fine art background – taught by Jesuits. We learned figure drawing with conte, mono prints, still life painting, sculpture, etc. I guess I came from the learned process of figure drawing by way of referencing my own visual interpretation of life (or abstract thought). If I could not understand the folds of one’s eyelids – my work looked less lifelike. This was the humbleness I was willing to take. To this day – like many comic book artists – I prefer to interpret the reality that was conjured in my mind after experiencing a visual reference (such as a bridge downtown or a portrait in the newspaper or google for that matter).

    As I became more versed with the principals and medium of graphic design, collage, music production (with samples), I realized that my buddy was truly innovative. He created something unique that no human would have ever experienced without him creating that interpretation.

    I still think the artwork makes more of a personal impact to me when the artist chooses to forgo near identical likeness – they instead use the reference from one or many sources – then piece them back together in their own personal ability to interpret that visual imagery.

    None the less – Shepard’s work is a unique piece of art taken from reference – as most all of his work is – that never would have existed without his interpretation – and for that I am thankful. I love his work and the OBEY project (I’ve been in the pose since – it read “Cover the Earth” like the old Shermin Williams paint can).

    AP needs to accept the fact that more and more humans are gaining tools to create art – with computers in almost every household. We cannot and should not stop anybody from creating Art. The more Art that is created – the more we can experience as humans.

    LIVE Art! It’s not a choice anymore.

  • http://aetoricdesign.carbonmade.com Aetoric Design

    It’s just so hard to give a fuck, ya know? Shepard’s got plenty of cash and so does AP. Can’t they just counteract each other and both go away? It’s like a penalty in football that would yield fewer yards for the offended team if it went through.

    Like I said, I’m having a really hard time giving a fuck.

  • http://aetoricdesign.carbonmade.com Aetoric Design

    It’s just so hard to give a fuck, ya know? Shepard’s got plenty of cash and so does AP. Can’t they just counteract each other and both go away? It’s like a penalty in football that would yield fewer yards for the offended team if it went through.

    Like I said, I’m having a really hard time giving a fuck.

  • Tyler Melendez

    I would have to say AP is just after money. Not only are all of the colors different but even the outline isn’t exact. It looks like he redrew it(didn’t trace).

    What if obama made that same pose(not exact like this poster) and some took a picture with a blue gel strobe at 9 o’clock and a red gel strobe at 3 o’clock and put a red and white background behind him? Someone snapped the picture would it be infringement?

    Nothing about this poster is exactly like the image. Colors, composition, and outline are all different.

    If Vanilla Ice can steal Queen’s beat just by adding an extra beat than I say this is in the clear.

  • http://blog.ruderetro.com Rude Retro

    LOL, I just found this article and my sympathy for Shepard Fairey just started to fade away. LOL. What goes around comes around.

    http://animalnewyork.com/news/2008/04/shepard-fairey-threatens-to-su.php

  • http://blog.ruderetro.com Rude Retro

    LOL, I just found this article and my sympathy for Shepard Fairey just started to fade away. LOL. What goes around comes around.

    http://animalnewyork.com/news/2008/04/shepard-fairey-threatens-to-su.php

  • http://blog.ruderetro.com Rude Retro

    Oops, should have read the comments…may be a hoax.

  • http://blog.ruderetro.com Rude Retro

    Oops, should have read the comments…may be a hoax.

  • http://www.bartondamer.com barton damer

    Actually, I made a diagram that clearly shows that his hard shadow drawing is EXACTLY taken from that pic.

    http://www.alreadybeenchewed.net/?p=837

    However, WHO CARES!!! Using it as a source is not an issue. It’s called a derivative of a work (see wikipedia for more info). I’m all for Sheperd! His work is amazing. The “art” of it is in the stylizing of the original image. It’s all good. If he gets nailed for this it opens up pandora’s box. That would mean photography in general is a copyright infringement without receiving permission from architects whose buildings appear in the background of photos. Where does it stop?

    Shepherd’s work is fantastic. I hope the AP loses quickly!

  • http://www.bartondamer.com barton damer

    Actually, I made a diagram that clearly shows that his hard shadow drawing is EXACTLY taken from that pic.

    http://www.alreadybeenchewed.net/?p=837

    However, WHO CARES!!! Using it as a source is not an issue. It’s called a derivative of a work (see wikipedia for more info). I’m all for Sheperd! His work is amazing. The “art” of it is in the stylizing of the original image. It’s all good. If he gets nailed for this it opens up pandora’s box. That would mean photography in general is a copyright infringement without receiving permission from architects whose buildings appear in the background of photos. Where does it stop?

    Shepherd’s work is fantastic. I hope the AP loses quickly!

  • http://mylifeinatoiletbowl.blogspot.com Keith Li

    I guess if you are really an honest dude you would take your own photos? But desperate measures would ask for desperate calls so it all boils down to balancing the situation i guess.? I mean there could be some levy in this matter and the cause of the campaign. Why be blinded by greed ?

  • http://mylifeinatoiletbowl.blogspot.com Keith Li

    I guess if you are really an honest dude you would take your own photos? But desperate measures would ask for desperate calls so it all boils down to balancing the situation i guess.? I mean there could be some levy in this matter and the cause of the campaign. Why be blinded by greed ?

  • Pingback: Open Debate: AP vs Fairey | Your Photo Tips

  • David

    I’m sure this would be a different conversation altogether if he had used the same treatment on Steve McCurry’s 1985 National Geographic Afghan Girl cover (you know, the one with the green eyes).

  • David

    I’m sure this would be a different conversation altogether if he had used the same treatment on Steve McCurry’s 1985 National Geographic Afghan Girl cover (you know, the one with the green eyes).

  • http://friemoney.com/ Ricky C

    No i don think he do that plagiarism in purpose maybe its just a coincidence and he barely knows that he copied someone else works. Its an accident.

  • http://friemoney.com/ Ricky C

    No i don think he do that plagiarism in purpose maybe its just a coincidence and he barely knows that he copied someone else works. Its an accident.

  • http://gomedia.us Oliver

    From what I’ve researched, Fairey very well could get hammered for this. I recently wanted to do a series of portraits of old jazz musicians, and it’s really tough to find reference photos. The only resource is Getty. They own ALL of the photos of these classic jazz icons (which is unfair to begin with), and I called asking if I could use them. I was told that if they put my work next to the original, and it looks close enough, I could be sued for infringement. So I’ve temporarily abandoned the idea.

    Now that this Fairey/Obama thing has blown up, I’ve learned a little bit about “fair use.” If he gets doesn’t get in trouble for this, I’m going to use those images I was talking about earlier.

  • http://gomedia.us Oliver

    From what I’ve researched, Fairey very well could get hammered for this. I recently wanted to do a series of portraits of old jazz musicians, and it’s really tough to find reference photos. The only resource is Getty. They own ALL of the photos of these classic jazz icons (which is unfair to begin with), and I called asking if I could use them. I was told that if they put my work next to the original, and it looks close enough, I could be sued for infringement. So I’ve temporarily abandoned the idea.

    Now that this Fairey/Obama thing has blown up, I’ve learned a little bit about “fair use.” If he gets doesn’t get in trouble for this, I’m going to use those images I was talking about earlier.

  • Voice Of Reason

    …why not buy the photo and save your self the grief??? Fairey is making money of this so why shouldn’t AP? They do own the photo.

    Its not like its something new to Fairey.

    http://www.brghtnghts.com/blog/?page_id=46

  • Voice Of Reason

    …why not buy the photo and save your self the grief??? Fairey is making money of this so why shouldn’t AP? They do own the photo.

    Its not like its something new to Fairey.

    http://www.brghtnghts.com/blog/?page_id=46

  • Andre Besson

    If he found the image in Google he should not be punished. People should thank for the art of Mr. Shepard. It’s simply, amazing… Hope is the last thing that we should loose.

    Regards,
    Andre Besson

  • Andre Besson

    If he found the image in Google he should not be punished. People should thank for the art of Mr. Shepard. It’s simply, amazing… Hope is the last thing that we should loose.

    Regards,
    Andre Besson

  • Sarah

    I can’t believe he’s on the infringing side of this argument!?!
    (Fairey)

    An artist is allowed to interpret, which is exactly what he did.
    He essentially painted a portrait that had a resounding impact. Now someone just wants to get their hands in the pot.

    The way I see it, all the other people that have copied HIS style for their buttons, web icons and t shirts ought to be the ones being sued for derivative content!

  • Sarah

    Barton is right.

    I’m going to start representing Landscapes and collecting what’s been owed them since Monet first discovered a haystack!

  • http://MickeyScalzo.com Mickey Scalzo

    If I put together an image of a painting… say the Mona Lisa, are we saying that I cannot sell this image as “my representation”, “as seen by me”, or “another artists interpretation” of this piece? I would love to absolutely know the answer to that…. makes me kinda sick to think that if I wanted to sell something that I painted, I would have to be sure that no one else in the world has ever done the same…

  • http://MickeyScalzo.com Mickey Scalzo

    If I put together an image of a painting… say the Mona Lisa, are we saying that I cannot sell this image as “my representation”, “as seen by me”, or “another artists interpretation” of this piece? I would love to absolutely know the answer to that…. makes me kinda sick to think that if I wanted to sell something that I painted, I would have to be sure that no one else in the world has ever done the same…

  • Paul

    Yes, Shephard did breach copyright. He is famous for taking images and re-interpreting them, this is what copyright is all about. Actually this is what every artist has done since time began! (Shudder, I do it too!) Shephard makes heaps of money (value) from the exposure, the fame and therefore his next job!

    Then Obama should sue AP for using his image (they are making money off him)

    Then the photographer should sue AP for the dodgy rights they have over his image
    (They are making money off his image)

    Then everyone involved should sue google images for reinterpreting the images from their sites (and making trillions of dollars)

    Then everyone should sue everyone for actually seeing anybody else and using their eyes to re-interpet their image into mental information into their brains.

    Then God can sue everyone for using his colours in their artwork..

    Seriously, if someone used my artwork or music and did a cheap ripoff, and got really famous and rich, I’d be a little annoyed too. But only because they were more successful than me! And I myself do not have truckloads of money to buy chocolate and see a dentist.

    BE WARNED: Google images are not free domain, and you can embarrass yourself and your clients if you aren’t more careful. (shudder)

  • http://www.maluni.se Maluni

    I think this is a very strange issue, this all has to do with if you have the right to redraw something somebody else has created, well, today it´s sure hard not to. Almost everything has allready been created. Maybe he should have looked at photo of the presidents bodydouble instead, would that make a difference. The picture is redrawn from the picture and for sure not the same.
    Or maybee he wants the media arround it and reported himself. Still, this is so America. We can take a new perspective that -Is that photo really the property of someone else than Obama?

  • Paul

    Yes, Shephard did breach copyright. He is famous for taking images and re-interpreting them, this is what copyright is all about. Actually this is what every artist has done since time began! (Shudder, I do it too!) Shephard makes heaps of money (value) from the exposure, the fame and therefore his next job!

    Then Obama should sue AP for using his image (they are making money off him)

    Then the photographer should sue AP for the dodgy rights they have over his image
    (They are making money off his image)

    Then everyone involved should sue google images for reinterpreting the images from their sites (and making trillions of dollars)

    Then everyone should sue everyone for actually seeing anybody else and using their eyes to re-interpet their image into mental information into their brains.

    Then God can sue everyone for using his colours in their artwork..

    Seriously, if someone used my artwork or music and did a cheap ripoff, and got really famous and rich, I’d be a little annoyed too. But only because they were more successful than me! And I myself do not have truckloads of money to buy chocolate and see a dentist.

    BE WARNED: Google images are not free domain, and you can embarrass yourself and your clients if you aren’t more careful. (shudder)

  • http://www.maluni.se Maluni

    I think this is a very strange issue, this all has to do with if you have the right to redraw something somebody else has created, well, today it´s sure hard not to. Almost everything has allready been created. Maybe he should have looked at photo of the presidents bodydouble instead, would that make a difference. The picture is redrawn from the picture and for sure not the same.
    Or maybee he wants the media arround it and reported himself. Still, this is so America. We can take a new perspective that -Is that photo really the property of someone else than Obama?

  • Sarah

    picture freak – and a lot of others here are making the argument that it was the ‘soul’ of the photograph that was responsible for it’s success and so the AP owns rights.

    By that account, then, Obama himself is the Soul of the Photograph and the AP doesn’t own a darn thing, either! Meaning, the photographer had no right to earn a living by taking his picture.

    That’s not a capitalist society, people! And I’m sorry, but that’s what we live in. If you’re in the public realm, your image will be captured and people will make money off of you. (endorsements, gossip magazines, etc.)

    I did wonder how he was getting away with that image when it first came out, unless he himself took it. If it wasn’t his, as it turns out it’s not, the honest thing to do would have been to attempt to contact the photographer or agency.

    But the question is did he create something original enough to be classified as his own, and I believe the answer is yes. Even though I’ve never been a fan of screenprint as art, they do require a certain artisian ability to manufacture and that is his original contribution.

    I guess we’ll see what the courts say.

  • Spartacus

    Who is this Obama guy? Sorry I live in NZ.

  • Spartacus

    Who is this Obama guy? Sorry I live in NZ.

  • http://www.gomedia.us Adam Wagner

    Got the news from @EJSchultz that Fairey beat AP to court! What next?! Here’s the story: http://nppa.org/news_and_events/news/2009/02/suit.html

  • http://www.gomedia.us Adam Wagner

    Got the news from @EJSchultz that Fairey beat AP to court! What next?! Here’s the story: http://nppa.org/news_and_events/news/2009/02/suit.html

  • John

    I am a big fan of the obey posters and remember seeing them all over Los Angeles when I lived there. I think it is a shame that he could get sued over this. The image copyright situation often gets out of hand. What was he supposed to do? Take a picture of Obama on his own? Yeah right.

    Conversely, if all it takes is giving a little credit where credit is due…then maybe he should give the image owner credit for the usage. Either way Fairely is a fine artist and I am forever a fan of his work.

  • John

    I am a big fan of the obey posters and remember seeing them all over Los Angeles when I lived there. I think it is a shame that he could get sued over this. The image copyright situation often gets out of hand. What was he supposed to do? Take a picture of Obama on his own? Yeah right.

    Conversely, if all it takes is giving a little credit where credit is due…then maybe he should give the image owner credit for the usage. Either way Fairely is a fine artist and I am forever a fan of his work.

  • Jessica

    Shepard Fairey ROCKS!!! AP just jealous of Fairey and they want a peice of the pie. You can totally tell Fairey redrew the picture differently form the photograph. If AP wants to be fair they need to look at all these crafters who are on sites like ETSY selling copywrited images as their own.

  • Jessica

    Shepard Fairey ROCKS!!! AP just jealous of Fairey and they want a peice of the pie. You can totally tell Fairey redrew the picture differently form the photograph. If AP wants to be fair they need to look at all these crafters who are on sites like ETSY selling copywrited images as their own.

  • Katatonic

    He is a user, he uses “public domain works then copyrights them as his own. He has continued this use with the “Hope” image. Simply put he should have gotten approval/credited where he got the image. We all know how it works, none of us are dummies. Use it illegally & suffer whatever the consequences (whether you agree with Copyright laws as they stand or not). If it had been my photo he used I would be suing his butt. If Fairey had stood there beside the photographer and hand drawn his own image no issue but he didn’t he googled it and misappropiated it.
    Be a man fess up and take your lickin’s. That he has donated all his monies from sales is noble but his reputation gain has to have been worth millions, until he got caught & recognized for the user he is. Hell we could all have multi-million dollar clothing lines if we had the morals of a gnat, but I don’t so alas I am poor…… but I can be proud of the work I do.

  • Katatonic

    He is a user, he uses “public domain works then copyrights them as his own. He has continued this use with the “Hope” image. Simply put he should have gotten approval/credited where he got the image. We all know how it works, none of us are dummies. Use it illegally & suffer whatever the consequences (whether you agree with Copyright laws as they stand or not). If it had been my photo he used I would be suing his butt. If Fairey had stood there beside the photographer and hand drawn his own image no issue but he didn’t he googled it and misappropiated it.
    Be a man fess up and take your lickin’s. That he has donated all his monies from sales is noble but his reputation gain has to have been worth millions, until he got caught & recognized for the user he is. Hell we could all have multi-million dollar clothing lines if we had the morals of a gnat, but I don’t so alas I am poor…… but I can be proud of the work I do.

  • Derek

    If this is considered a copyright violation, then there are scores of Obama items FOR SALE that are more blatantly in violation of the law. That fact could be thoughtfully reported upon in the news. Let’s hope that Fairey, who can easily be labeled as a bad guy by the masses, doesn’t have to take a fall. Can someone please find a blatant rip-off of Obama’s portrait and put that in the spotlight, to put this in perspective to the public? Or how about a story interviewing vendors off the street, asking them where they got their Obama images?

  • Derek

    If this is considered a copyright violation, then there are scores of Obama items FOR SALE that are more blatantly in violation of the law. That fact could be thoughtfully reported upon in the news. Let’s hope that Fairey, who can easily be labeled as a bad guy by the masses, doesn’t have to take a fall. Can someone please find a blatant rip-off of Obama’s portrait and put that in the spotlight, to put this in perspective to the public? Or how about a story interviewing vendors off the street, asking them where they got their Obama images?

  • DIRTY JAX

    If it was the photographer, I would do everything I could to get money off this and thats what I think is going on. Nothing personal but everyone wants to get paid. That being said, I don’t think he’ll win. Its basically a painting of the photograph and if he wins the suit over fairy, then obama should sue him for royalties.

  • Ldog187

    If you are using a picture from an online source as reference you should always try to get permission from the owner of the image. If you have record that you tried multiple times and multiple ways to contact the owner of the image without any luck, then that will help when someone says you are violating their copyright of the image in question.

    Fairey has acknowledged, his image is based on an Associated Press photograph, taken in April 2006 by Manny Garcia on assignment for the AP at the National Press Club in Washington. Case Closed. AP has proven they own the image and when they first used it in the public domain.

    Deny, Deny, Deny. Had he not admitted that he used the AP photo as reference it may be another story, but it is very obvious.

    Just because you find an image on Google Images doesn’t mean you can use it. Every image on the internet is copyrighted by the owner who first published it. If they can prove they used it before you did then you are infringing on their copyright.

    Had he asked them I am sure they would have said no anyways.

    Still it rocks and I wish him good luck. Maybe he can overturn the copyright laws or something.

  • Ldog187

    If you are using a picture from an online source as reference you should always try to get permission from the owner of the image. If you have record that you tried multiple times and multiple ways to contact the owner of the image without any luck, then that will help when someone says you are violating their copyright of the image in question.

    Fairey has acknowledged, his image is based on an Associated Press photograph, taken in April 2006 by Manny Garcia on assignment for the AP at the National Press Club in Washington. Case Closed. AP has proven they own the image and when they first used it in the public domain.

    Deny, Deny, Deny. Had he not admitted that he used the AP photo as reference it may be another story, but it is very obvious.

    Just because you find an image on Google Images doesn’t mean you can use it. Every image on the internet is copyrighted by the owner who first published it. If they can prove they used it before you did then you are infringing on their copyright.

    Had he asked them I am sure they would have said no anyways.

    Still it rocks and I wish him good luck. Maybe he can overturn the copyright laws or something.

  • Sarah

    Oh, irony.

    According to this article –
    http://nppa.org/news_and_events/news/2009/02/suit.html
    - an artist at the Boston Globe used Fairey’s mugshot from his recent arrest and the Obama ‘icon site’ to create a version starring Fairey, himself.

    So, can Fairey now turn around and sue the Illustrator for using his likeness AND artistic concept for profit? (He’s getting paid by the Globe)

    I think Obama needs to rule on this one :)

  • Bryan Snow

    I personally think the whole copyright ideal is part of the type of thinking that has gotten this country into the situations that we are facing today. If somebody can take something and make it better, let them. At some point, people got so consumed with making money, and owning intangible things that they lost sight of the truly important things in life. So why can’t artist take things and make them more beautiful for the world? I tend to agree with the American Indians on this subject: We never really own anything, we simply are entrusted with the task of being good stewards of what we have.

  • Bryan Snow

    I personally think the whole copyright ideal is part of the type of thinking that has gotten this country into the situations that we are facing today. If somebody can take something and make it better, let them. At some point, people got so consumed with making money, and owning intangible things that they lost sight of the truly important things in life. So why can’t artist take things and make them more beautiful for the world? I tend to agree with the American Indians on this subject: We never really own anything, we simply are entrusted with the task of being good stewards of what we have.

  • Sarah

    I can’t believe he’s on the infringing side of this argument!?!
    (Fairey)

    An artist is allowed to interpret, which is exactly what he did.
    He essentially painted a portrait that had a resounding impact. Now someone just wants to get their hands in the pot.

    The way I see it, all the other people that have copied HIS style for their buttons, web icons and t shirts ought to be the ones being sued for derivative content!

  • Sarah

    Barton is right.

    I’m going to start representing Landscapes and collecting what’s been owed them since Monet first discovered a haystack!

  • Sarah

    picture freak – and a lot of others here are making the argument that it was the ‘soul’ of the photograph that was responsible for it’s success and so the AP owns rights.

    By that account, then, Obama himself is the Soul of the Photograph and the AP doesn’t own a darn thing, either! Meaning, the photographer had no right to earn a living by taking his picture.

    That’s not a capitalist society, people! And I’m sorry, but that’s what we live in. If you’re in the public realm, your image will be captured and people will make money off of you. (endorsements, gossip magazines, etc.)

    I did wonder how he was getting away with that image when it first came out, unless he himself took it. If it wasn’t his, as it turns out it’s not, the honest thing to do would have been to attempt to contact the photographer or agency.

    But the question is did he create something original enough to be classified as his own, and I believe the answer is yes. Even though I’ve never been a fan of screenprint as art, they do require a certain artisian ability to manufacture and that is his original contribution.

    I guess we’ll see what the courts say.

  • DIRTY JAX

    If it was the photographer, I would do everything I could to get money off this and thats what I think is going on. Nothing personal but everyone wants to get paid. That being said, I don’t think he’ll win. Its basically a painting of the photograph and if he wins the suit over fairy, then obama should sue him for royalties.

  • Sarah

    Oh, irony.

    According to this article –
    http://nppa.org/news_and_events/news/2009/02/suit.html
    - an artist at the Boston Globe used Fairey’s mugshot from his recent arrest and the Obama ‘icon site’ to create a version starring Fairey, himself.

    So, can Fairey now turn around and sue the Illustrator for using his likeness AND artistic concept for profit? (He’s getting paid by the Globe)

    I think Obama needs to rule on this one :)

  • b. forde

    you can’t be serious..

    maybe sharing the credit, or making the inspiration public, but this poster is now part of the Smithonian, and Fairey did not make any money off that poster, it was non profit, if any one should pay it should be the douchebags that did make a profit by selling the donated posters on ebay..

  • b. forde

    you can’t be serious..

    maybe sharing the credit, or making the inspiration public, but this poster is now part of the Smithonian, and Fairey did not make any money off that poster, it was non profit, if any one should pay it should be the douchebags that did make a profit by selling the donated posters on ebay..

  • Ruben

    Sounds a lot like a Napster story…well, almost.

    I find it funny, that in this sue-happy country of ours, they would pick an Obama photo to trigger this. I wish I could reference the countless other illustrations of people/celebrities that have gone on to be famous works of art (um…Warhol comes to mind). Well with fame comes the glory I guess.

  • Ruben

    Sounds a lot like a Napster story…well, almost.

    I find it funny, that in this sue-happy country of ours, they would pick an Obama photo to trigger this. I wish I could reference the countless other illustrations of people/celebrities that have gone on to be famous works of art (um…Warhol comes to mind). Well with fame comes the glory I guess.

  • http://www.derekgores.com derek gores

    a mustache on a mona lisa is different because the mona lisa was in ‘public domain’ because so many years have passed since its creation.

  • http://www.derekgores.com derek gores

    a mustache on a mona lisa is different because the mona lisa was in ‘public domain’ because so many years have passed since its creation.

  • http://www.gomedia.us katie

    Ok, looked this up from the us copy right office. This is the legal standpoint on if this was legit or not. http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html

  • http://www.gomedia.us katie

    Ok, looked this up from the us copy right office. This is the legal standpoint on if this was legit or not. http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html

  • http://www.eternyl.com Drew

    First of all everyone, really needs to understand – there is no 20%, 30%, 40%, 50%… etc rule…
    that is a myth.

    If you trace, reference, or even are in the same room with your reference…if you didn’t create the reference yourself, or pay for the license to use it, ( really it’s not always that expensive, sometimes free)…. you can be held accountable for copyright infringement, by a ambitious individual.

    Sorry but that it the law, and a good lawyer can get a client paid on very little evidence….all they have to do it match up a little shading, or a few lines.

    If you can reproduce an image from memory, and can prove it…you are safe.

    Every artist should sit down with a copyright lawyer once in their career….at least learn the risks, there is a lot of misinformation out there.

  • http://www.eternyl.com Drew

    First of all everyone, really needs to understand – there is no 20%, 30%, 40%, 50%… etc rule…
    that is a myth.

    If you trace, reference, or even are in the same room with your reference…if you didn’t create the reference yourself, or pay for the license to use it, ( really it’s not always that expensive, sometimes free)…. you can be held accountable for copyright infringement, by a ambitious individual.

    Sorry but that it the law, and a good lawyer can get a client paid on very little evidence….all they have to do it match up a little shading, or a few lines.

    If you can reproduce an image from memory, and can prove it…you are safe.

    Every artist should sit down with a copyright lawyer once in their career….at least learn the risks, there is a lot of misinformation out there.

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  • http://www.tricycle.ie Oisin

    This reminds me of the iconic Che Guevara image created by the Irish Artist Jim Fitzpatrick. It was based on a photograph by an unknown Cuban photographer.

    Jim Fitzpatrick made the image he created copyright free and did not profit from it.

    “It’s an odd world.” says the artist, “The Che Guevara poster became a worldwide phenomena and caused outrage everywhere it appeared. Because the various posters of Che I produced were based on a photograph by a then unknown Cuban photographer plus the fact that I had met him (Che Guevara), idolised him and of course wanted to make sure he was never forgotten I made all the Guevara images copyright free. That’s how it spread everywhere so quickly.”

    It’s not always about money I guess. Personally I’d rather go down in history like Jim Fitzpatrick than die rich.

  • http://www.tricycle.ie Oisin

    This reminds me of the iconic Che Guevara image created by the Irish Artist Jim Fitzpatrick. It was based on a photograph by an unknown Cuban photographer.

    Jim Fitzpatrick made the image he created copyright free and did not profit from it.

    “It’s an odd world.” says the artist, “The Che Guevara poster became a worldwide phenomena and caused outrage everywhere it appeared. Because the various posters of Che I produced were based on a photograph by a then unknown Cuban photographer plus the fact that I had met him (Che Guevara), idolised him and of course wanted to make sure he was never forgotten I made all the Guevara images copyright free. That’s how it spread everywhere so quickly.”

    It’s not always about money I guess. Personally I’d rather go down in history like Jim Fitzpatrick than die rich.

  • http://nicelogo.com nicelogo.com

    What a disappointment!

    If someone used part of your logo or photo, damn right you would ask for some type of compensation and credit. Fairey should have gotten permission first. He’s making enough money to pay for usage rights and should now better. I would say this is an great example of zero ethics. Cause or no cause we should not steal from one another.

    No such thing as 10%. Don’t steal. Respect each others rights. It’s that simple.

  • http://nicelogo.com nicelogo.com

    What a disappointment!

    If someone used part of your logo or photo, damn right you would ask for some type of compensation and credit. Fairey should have gotten permission first. He’s making enough money to pay for usage rights and should now better. I would say this is an great example of zero ethics. Cause or no cause we should not steal from one another.

    No such thing as 10%. Don’t steal. Respect each others rights. It’s that simple.

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  • Hugh Collier

    My feelings are that the artist has created an iconic image from a very bog standard, ordinary and drab photograph. The two images have very different connotations.

    Hopefully common sense will prevail but I have my doubts.

    I’ve written a lengthy response to this post on my own blog:

    http://www.creativegraphicsblog.com/2009/02/does-the-iconic-obama-poster-infringe-on-the-copyright-of-the-original-photograph/

  • Hugh Collier

    My feelings are that the artist has created an iconic image from a very bog standard, ordinary and drab photograph. The two images have very different connotations.

    Hopefully common sense will prevail but I have my doubts.

    I’ve written a lengthy response to this post on my own blog:

    http://www.creativegraphicsblog.com/2009/02/does-the-iconic-obama-poster-infringe-on-the-copyright-of-the-original-photograph/

  • jack crawford

    What about the rights of artist who actually took the picture. This Guy, Right Clicks a photo from a company who take pictures and sell them( and not for a lot of money ), he photo-shops it and then sells 300,000 poster and T-shirts to boot. Everyone on Facebook is doing the same thing to there own photos, so not sure how its art anyway.

    But in the end, this guy wanted a business and did not want to pay rights because he thought he was under the radar. I am also sure the IRS will look into where all the cash for $10 posters and Tshirts went.

    Its just like music. An artist makes a song, a company puts it out there. A DJ can play the song for a friend party, But he can make 300,000 copies and not sell them. Just admit he was wrong and pay the 2 cents per copy and stop vandalizing the highways in Boston.

  • jack crawford

    What about the rights of artist who actually took the picture. This Guy, Right Clicks a photo from a company who take pictures and sell them( and not for a lot of money ), he photo-shops it and then sells 300,000 poster and T-shirts to boot. Everyone on Facebook is doing the same thing to there own photos, so not sure how its art anyway.

    But in the end, this guy wanted a business and did not want to pay rights because he thought he was under the radar. I am also sure the IRS will look into where all the cash for $10 posters and Tshirts went.

    Its just like music. An artist makes a song, a company puts it out there. A DJ can play the song for a friend party, But he can make 300,000 copies and not sell them. Just admit he was wrong and pay the 2 cents per copy and stop vandalizing the highways in Boston.

  • ac

    Yes, the photographer should be credited/paid for it. True, they should have delt with it when the image first starting making the rounds — honestly, I’m really surprised at the amount of people here insuating that it is ok to scan google images for photos, tracing them and saying what you did is “original”. Especially since many of you are artisits yourselves! I highly doubt the arguments here would be the same, if the tables where turned.

    Those of you saying he made it “better”, are frankly embarrassing and reek of fanboi. Wether it is or not, is not the point whatsoever.

  • ac

    Yes, the photographer should be credited/paid for it. True, they should have delt with it when the image first starting making the rounds — honestly, I’m really surprised at the amount of people here insuating that it is ok to scan google images for photos, tracing them and saying what you did is “original”. Especially since many of you are artisits yourselves! I highly doubt the arguments here would be the same, if the tables where turned.

    Those of you saying he made it “better”, are frankly embarrassing and reek of fanboi. Wether it is or not, is not the point whatsoever.

  • Hunter

    Shephard Faireys plagiarisms don’t stop there.

    http://www.art-for-a-change.com/Obey/index.htm

  • Hunter

    Shephard Faireys plagiarisms don’t stop there.

    http://www.art-for-a-change.com/Obey/index.htm

  • http://www.audreyheffner.net Audrey Heffner

    I think the public humiliation of having copied somebody else’s work and not acknowleged it or compensated it is plenty.

    It also shows people what can happen. If he’d just put a byline on it of the other guys work, and worked out a deal beforehand, it all would have been fine. I’d be really embarassed if this happened to me, and will in the future check this stuff out.

    Body Shop one time put a fat version of a Barbie Doll in an ad, it didn’t even look like the doll, really, just jointed like one, and they received a cease and desist order from Mattel… they pulled the ad rather than fight it. (google fat barbie, its funny)

    People who own rights to things really fight hard to keep their rights, and the internet makes it so easy to steal somebody’s mojo.

    It doesn’t make it right. Anybody who thinks its ok hasn’t had somebody steal their art. Sometimes I follow the hit counter on my site, and go change the URL’s of photos people have used of mine on their site, its flattering, but there’s a fine line to cross here.

    It could cost you some bucks.

  • http://www.audreyheffner.net Audrey Heffner

    I think the public humiliation of having copied somebody else’s work and not acknowleged it or compensated it is plenty.

    It also shows people what can happen. If he’d just put a byline on it of the other guys work, and worked out a deal beforehand, it all would have been fine. I’d be really embarassed if this happened to me, and will in the future check this stuff out.

    Body Shop one time put a fat version of a Barbie Doll in an ad, it didn’t even look like the doll, really, just jointed like one, and they received a cease and desist order from Mattel… they pulled the ad rather than fight it. (google fat barbie, its funny)

    People who own rights to things really fight hard to keep their rights, and the internet makes it so easy to steal somebody’s mojo.

    It doesn’t make it right. Anybody who thinks its ok hasn’t had somebody steal their art. Sometimes I follow the hit counter on my site, and go change the URL’s of photos people have used of mine on their site, its flattering, but there’s a fine line to cross here.

    It could cost you some bucks.

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  • Matthew

    i just find it funny, knowing obama’s views, where and when the AP photo was taken. lol

    here’s the story on that part:
    http://bound4life.com/blog/2009/01/26/obama-hope-poster

  • Matthew

    i just find it funny, knowing obama’s views, where and when the AP photo was taken. lol

    here’s the story on that part:
    http://bound4life.com/blog/2009/01/26/obama-hope-poster

  • Sarah

    so… jumping back into the conversation here, but how about these guys?
    http://www.managemyemaillist.biz/display.php?M=94630&C=e389f6df3fd80762bebf545bebf128a9&S=369&L=28&N=279

    Do you think they created all those images from memory?

    Also, there’s a billboard now on I-94 in Chicago that has four or five different headshots of actors, all vectorized like the ObamaIcon site, which is obviously modeled after Fairey’s poster. (Will try to catch a photo of it tomorrow) – But it’s for a major television station.

    Maybe Fairey can even the field by going after them…

  • Sarah

    so… jumping back into the conversation here, but how about these guys?
    http://www.managemyemaillist.biz/display.php?M=94630&C=e389f6df3fd80762bebf545bebf128a9&S=369&L=28&N=279

    Do you think they created all those images from memory?

    Also, there’s a billboard now on I-94 in Chicago that has four or five different headshots of actors, all vectorized like the ObamaIcon site, which is obviously modeled after Fairey’s poster. (Will try to catch a photo of it tomorrow) – But it’s for a major television station.

    Maybe Fairey can even the field by going after them…

  • rafael

    what a bunch of bullsh*t.

    in first place he is not reselling the photo and claiming it to be his.

    He merely looked at the photo, in a media open to everybody (google images) and referencing on that image, he created an ILLUSTRATION.

    He is a great artist with great background and sue him sounds more like a certain geallousy or envy!!!

    come on, he should actually be paid for the astunning work. That poster even did so much for Obama to be elected!

    I just can’t stand with this medieval thinking still around these days!

  • rafael

    what a bunch of bullsh*t.

    in first place he is not reselling the photo and claiming it to be his.

    He merely looked at the photo, in a media open to everybody (google images) and referencing on that image, he created an ILLUSTRATION.

    He is a great artist with great background and sue him sounds more like a certain geallousy or envy!!!

    come on, he should actually be paid for the astunning work. That poster even did so much for Obama to be elected!

    I just can’t stand with this medieval thinking still around these days!

  • http://www.ree-she.com Rishi Luchun

    No he shouldn’t be sued, more like giving a pat on the back…

    :)

  • http://www.ree-she.com Rishi Luchun

    No he shouldn’t be sued, more like giving a pat on the back…

    :)

  • John

    He should be hung and castrated for his crime against the AP. He should be made into an example for all designers who create original artwork using a photo as reference. But wait, I took a similar photo at a rally in Chicago. Did he use mine? I am going to sue….make some money the American way.

  • John

    He should be hung and castrated for his crime against the AP. He should be made into an example for all designers who create original artwork using a photo as reference. But wait, I took a similar photo at a rally in Chicago. Did he use mine? I am going to sue….make some money the American way.

  • Brian

    Not making profit from an image doesn't allow the user the right to use the image. If that were the case I'd expect to see Mickey Mouse skinning a cat and doing who knows what to it and Disney saying hey that's ok because the person redrew him from an image he got off Disney.com.

    I agree that it's next to impossible for you and I to go to a ralley, get just the right photo and then do our artwork so I'm not crucifying the artist of the usage of the image. I just hate it when someone says “Hey I'm not making money on it, it must be ok”.

  • alexanderacostaosorio

    Fair use? may be, and may be not. Fairey work recicles various techniques and subjects from the public domain to convey meaning or to energize an old message. His printing work remainds me of 'HATCH SHOW PRINT:the great American Poster Shop' from Nashville, Tenn. An important figure in the printing American tradition. His Obama poster was a convination of his own style delveloped after Obey giant,Obama's google image(reversed) and heavily influenced by'Bill Monroe' poster created by Hatch Show Print. In my opinon, Fairey did convine enough elements into his work to make it his own. It seems AP wanted some credit( and money) for the succesful Obama poster. If the material,the subject is up there in the public domain, if personalized should be ok to do it for artist and designers as well. Some of the biggest artist and designers of all time have done it before, the problem now is that every one want to have a slice of the cake, no matter what.

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  • rezzie

    No he shouldn't.
    He came up with a good technique.
    Some people are just jealous they didn't think if it.

  • Jw

    Absolutely. This guy isn't an artist – he's a copyist. He's ripping off other people's work left and right. And not even doing it well. If you overlay the photo on the poster – he traced it, then painted it blue and red. That's it. No fancy technique. It matches exactly. Speaking as an ILLUSTRATOR, the basic rule of thumb in illustration is to change a photo at least 70% from the original, so that your piece is nowhere near your source. This seems like a clear violation of copyright in my estimation. Imagine if someone else took the poster and changed the colors to green – wouldn't Shepherd Fairey be upset?

    All of this is so stupid anyways – he should have just paid AP for the right to use the photo; if he'd done the right thing in the first place there wouldn't be a problem. But, as I think is clear from looking at the link above. Fairey doesn't have a problem with stealing.

  • Jw

    also, that falls under “fair use” because it's a satire.

  • Alexa Brosen

    To be honest….if people don’t want their faces to be copied..dont have them photographed either…stay out of the public eye..and out of our business. The illustration is similar…but its not like he painted everything from the original photo. The person who took the photo…did they sign something stating that their photo should never be copied? I wonder. Its all about making money by stealing it from other people..not about the artist who created the illustration. People get sued only when something sells tons. Makes you wonder how any rule is made by the stupid american government…bunch of thieves they are.

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