Thursday, February 5, 2009

AP Alleges Copyright Infringement Of Obama Pic

It seems that the Associated Press has a little problem with hope and change when it involves one of their photographs of the new president:

NEW YORK – On buttons, posters and Web sites, the image was everywhere during last year's presidential campaign: A pensive Barack Obama looking upward, as if to the future, splashed in a Warholesque red, white and blue and underlined with the caption HOPE.

Designed by Shepard Fairey, a Los-Angeles based street artist, 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.

The image, Fairey has acknowledged, 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.

The AP says it owns the copyright, and wants credit and compensation. Fairey disagrees.

"The Associated Press has determined that the photograph used in the poster is an AP photo and that its use required permission," the AP's director of media relations, Paul Colford, said in a statement.

"AP safeguards its assets and looks at these events on a case-by-case basis. We have reached out to Mr. Fairey's attorney and are in discussions. We hope for an amicable solution."

"We believe fair use protects Shepard's right to do what he did here," says Fairey's attorney, Anthony Falzone, executive director of the Fair Use Project at Stanford University and a lecturer at the Stanford Law School. "It wouldn't be appropriate to comment beyond that at this time because we are in discussions about this with the AP."

I'm no lawyer but the fair use argument seems to hold a fair amount of water here, especially since Fairey created a painting using the original photograph merely as its basis. I would also suspect that the fact that he received no financial compensation would add to his case, but the images inclusion in the art exhibit mentioned in the story may negate that claim.

(hat tip: PK)


Intrepid Californio said...

Yeah, I'm not sure that they even have a case. I would say that Obama himself is the inspiration for the art more so than the pic taken. Furthermore, I am not so sure that the AP did not manipulate the copyrights from the original original owner of the pic in the first place. That is to say that he probably had to agree to surrender all license to them in order to be payed. That seems to be the status quo. But I digress. I was under the impression from when I was looking into copyrighting my own work, that one could not copyright the subject of the image. One can only copyright the image its self. Although these images are similar, they are indeed different. Just my thoughts

Anonymous said...

Once it's on the internet, copyright don't mean shit. Yee ha!