Taggers Have Lawyers Too: Shepard Fairey Sues AP

Shepard Fairey, accused last week by the Associated Press of infringing on its supposedly copyrighted photo of Obama, has fought back the only way successful street taggers can: with a lawsuit. Specifically, Fairey is asking a New York federal district judge to find that his HOPE poster does not infringe on the AP’s copyright and that his use of the photo was protected by the Fair Use Doctrine. Looks like there’s going to be a lot of welcome billable attorney hours on this one.

7 thoughts on “Taggers Have Lawyers Too: Shepard Fairey Sues AP”

  1. If the source photo that we keep seeing is indeed a cropped version of a larger one, such as the one with Clooney, then every news organization whose story I’ve seen thus far is showing us a misleading picture.

  2. Annika, my take is that the AP only asserted a claim of ownership. Fairey filed his suit to prevent the AP from ever suing him over the ownership issue. His suit is there to establish his fair use and as an estoppel to keep them from ever suing him.

    Great post, its nice to have something to exercise ones mind like a lawsuit.

  3. It should be noted the Obama Obey posters in this post (unlike the Obama Hope poster) are not official SF product, right? SO AP has even more people to attempt to bleed with lawyering. Get cracking, guys.

  4. WTF?

    Matt: The photo that is being compared to the Hope poster is indeed a cropped one, not the one Sean brought up. So far, the only place I’ve seen this “uncropped” photo appear is here on Metblogs. I’m not disagreeing that Sean was told that this was the photo Shepard based his photo on, but don’t believe the facts are accurate.

    Annika: I don’t think copyright ownership has been established. Again, in spite of what’s been insisted upon here on Metblogs, even the photographer, who said he believes he owns the copyright, isn’t certain and is still discussing the matter with the AP.

    Another clarification, while the photographer has said he doesn’t want to fight with SF, he also says he doesn’t want to fight with the AP. However, he has not stated that he doesn’t believe he shouldn’t have been credited, and has indicated concern with how his photo has been used and profited from.


    “This is not about me making money off this, it’s about recognition. I made the most iconic image of our time, and I’d like it to make a difference, not make me money. I’m a blue collar photographer – I am out there on the grind every day. I spend more energy looking for work than doing work. I just want Shepard Fairey to say ‘alright, you’re the guy. Thank you.'”

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