Hope springs eternal?
It’s rare an election image would remain controversial so long after an election.
But that’s exactly what happened with the Obama “Hope” poster, created by street artist Shepard Fairey using an AP photograph, in a copyright lawsuit unique to the street art context.
The image came to define the 2008 election; the poster and flood of related merchandise were absolutely everywhere — and that was part of the problem.
AP is, naturally, protective of its original content, and it claimed that Fairey took the image without crediting or compensating AP.
Fairey, in turn, claimed that he did not take copyrighted content, and in any case, the way he used AP’s original photograph amounted to “fair use” under copyright law — which means that Fairey would not have needed to obtain AP’s permission anyways.
Now Fairey, his companies Obey Giant Art and Studio Number One, and AP have agreed to settle this copyright infringement lawsuit, though neither “surrenders its view of the law,” according to an AP press release.
Financial terms remain confidential, but Fairey agrees to not use any more AP images in his work without getting a licence, and both sides will share the “Hope” image going forward.
Perhaps the most interesting result is that Fairey will create a series of images using AP photographs in the future.
Here are the public statements from both sides:
From President and CEO of AP, Tom Curley:
The Associated Press is pleased to have reached resolution of its lawsuit with Mr. Fairey. AP will continue to celebrate the outstanding work of its award-winning photographers and use revenue from the licensing of those photos to support its mission as the essential provider of news and photography from around the world. The AP will continue to vigilantly protect its copyrighted photographs against wholesale copying and commercialization where there is no legitimate basis for asserting fair use.
And from Shepard Fairey:
I am pleased to have resolved the dispute with the Associated Press. I respect the work of photographers, as well as recognise the need to preserve opportunities for other artists to make fair use of photographic images. I often collaborate with photographers in my work, and I look forward to working with photos provided by the AP’s talented photographers.
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