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:
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-56rcLxmk4

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”

News Wires Cover Obama’s Israel Visit …And My Hebrew Poster

Cast thy bread upon the waters, for thou shalt find it after many days.

        – – Ecclesiastes 11:1

While I knew that the Hebrew Obama poster I designed has been viewed thousands of times, I could not tell if the high resolution files I made available were ever printed and used in a rally. Until yesterday:

All the major news wires covering Barack Obama’s Israeli visit, including The New York Times and The Associated Press – all mentioned a group of Israeli supporters holding a ‘Change We Can Believe In’ Hebrew banner. This sounded really nice, but when I started seeing photos taken by the various wires, I got really excited. A couple of hours later, I got an email from a group called Israelis for Obama, updating me on their usage of my graphics. They downloaded the design off my website and printed out loads of flyers and one big banner. Then they followed Obama’s visit route, showing support all over Jerusalem.

Here are a few photos I found:

  A supporter of US Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) stands outside his hotel in Jerusalem July 22, 2008.
A supporter of US Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) stands outside his hotel in Jerusalem July 22, 2008.
REUTERS/Jim Young
Supporters of US Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama hold a banner reading in Hebrew 'change in which we can believe' as they gather in front of Israeli President Shimon Peres' residence where Obama and Peres are meeting on July 23, 2008 in Jerusalem.
Supporters of US Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama hold a banner reading in Hebrew ‘change in which we can believe’ as they gather in front of Israeli President Shimon Peres’ residence where Obama and Peres are meeting on July 23, 2008 in Jerusalem. Obama started his visit to Israel and the West Bank during which he will meet with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images
  Supporters of US Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama hold a banner reading in Hebrew 'change in which we can believe' as they gather in front of Israeli President Shimon Peres' residence where Obama and Peres are meeting on July 23, 2008 in Jerusalem.
Road Blog: Israel, the Day in Pictures – July 23, 2008
Obama for America Campaign Headquarters
Supporters of U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) hold a banner printed with his name in Hebrew as they wait for his arrival at the Western wall in Jerusalem July 23, 2008.
Supporters of U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) hold a banner printed with his name in Hebrew as they wait for his arrival at the Western wall in Jerusalem July 23, 2008.
REUTERS/Baz Ratner