Hey! Associated Press, Please Sue My Newspaper!

I am sure everyone had seen the Obama HOPE poster by Shepard Fairey, but I am not so sure many people follow up on the legal issues behind it. The basic plot goes like this: before creating the work, Fairey used Google to search for an Obama image as a reference. He found an image he liked and created what became a ubiquitous poster. More than a year after the poster went viral the Associated Press contacted Fairey, claimed they own the original image and wanted to sue him for damages. The best thing about it is that the photographer who actually took the original photo, Mannie Garcia, is not an AP employee but a freelancer who claims he holds the copyright and is not just fine with what Fairey created – he is proud of him. Here’s Fairey in his own words:

We live in interesting times. Technology is evolving so fast, we can barely keep up with the ethical and moral questions raised. And so if the AP chooses to put themselves at the wrong side of progress and sue Fairey for his use of the original photo, I plead with them to please also sue my newspaper Maariv and its caricaturist Zeus (Ron Zisenbach) who yesterday published the following image, in clear violation of the AP standard of fair use:
Obama Caricature in Israeli Newspaper Maariv - July 21, 2009
The Hebrew text says: “solar eclipse”

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