Fairey's Use


Last year's Presidential election was historic on many accounts. Both campaigns saw an unprecedented turnout, as Americans from all walks of life came out in record numbers in support to their candidate of choice. Controversial artist Shepard Fairey, whose work includes "street art, commercial art and design, as well as fine art seen in galleries and museums all over the world,” was one of these Americans. (Complaint, Fairey v. The Associated Press, 09-cv-01123, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, at ¶ 9). Fairey's "Hope" and "Progress" posters depicting President Barack Obama became symbols of the Obama campaign and its grassroots support. The image became a familiar sight on the morning commute, adorning cars' bumpers and back windows. A special version of the poster was created for President Obama's inauguration and another version of Fairey's Obama work now hangs in the Smithsonian Institution's National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC.

Yet Fairey's iconic image of President Obama is now under attack. The Associated Press claims that Fairey's Obama works infringe its copyright in the photograph on which the works are based. Fairey admits that he used a photograph, taken by Mannie Garcia at the National Press Club in April 2006, as a "visual reference" in creating his depiction of Obama (Complaint, at ¶ 18). The Associated Press, which claims to own the copyright to Garcia's photograph, contends that Fairey's works are unauthorized copies of that photograph. The Associated Press has allegedly demanded that Fairey enter into a licensing agreement covering his works (Complaint, at ¶ 37).

Please see full post for more information.

LOADING PDF: If there are any problems, click here to download the file.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP | Attorney Advertising

Written by:


Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP on:

Popular Topics
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:

Sign up to create your digest using LinkedIn*

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.

Already signed up? Log in here

*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.