Shepard Fairey used a little-known photograph of Barack Obama, taken in 2006 at the National Press Club by Associated Press photographer Mannie Garcia, and made it into an iconic representation of the man that many voters saw as an almost messianic figure. But was Fairey's use of the photo "fair use"? Legal experts at Stanford Law School think so.
The Fair Use Project at Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society and San Francisco-based law firm Durie Tangri Lemley Roberts & Kent LLP filed a lawsuit on February 9 against the Associated Press (AP) on behalf of Shepard Fairey and his production company Obey Giant Art, Inc. The lawsuit comes after the AP accused Fairey of infringing its copyrights on the photo.
Anthony Falzone, executive director of the Fair Use Project and lecturer at Stanford Law School, is leading Fairey’s legal team. Falzone contends that Fairey's treatment of the photo gave it "powerful new meaning and conveys a radically different message that has no analogue in the original photograph."
"Nor has Fairey done any harm to the value of the original photograph," says Falzone. "Quite the opposite; Fairey has made the photograph immeasurably more valuable."
Stanford's lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, seeks a declaration from the Court that Fairey did not infringe AP’s copyrights in creating the Obama "Hope" poster and other related works.
Being an ameteur photographer myself this is very profound news. I can actually see where both sides are coming from. If I were the photographer I would think it was copyright infringement and if I was the creator of the art with the photo I would think I was not copyright infringing.
I wonder if the creator of the Hope art has thought about getting a patent on his item so as not to end up in court sueing people for patent infringement or copyright infringement?