February 5th, 2009
03:10 PM ET
5 years ago

AP charges copyright infringement on famous Obama image

Fairey stands next to his famous depiction of Obama at the National Portrait Gallery.
Fairey stands next to his famous depiction of Obama at the National Portrait Gallery.

(CNN) - The Associated Press is claiming ownership of the most famous image of the presidential campaign: Shepard Fairey's “Hope” depiction of President Obama in red, white and blue.

The image itself, which now has a home in the National Portrait Gallery, is based on a 2006 AP photograph — and the news service says it deserves credit, and a share of the massive profits Fairey's depiction has generated.

“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 released Wednesday. "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."

Anthony Falzone, Fairey's attorney, says fair use protects his client's rights from using the photograph as a basis for his image. The concept of fair use allows breaches of copyright law based on the degree to which the original image is used, among other factors.

Fairey, a Los Angeles street artist, has said he found the image online and created his now-famous depiction in early 2008. He says he has not profited at all from the work, which he donated to the Obama campaign.


Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (222 Responses)
  1. Pete

    It's probably not a coincidence that the AP has very prominant Republican operatives in charge.

    February 5, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  2. Sniffit

    This is stupid. Having monetary problems during the economic crisis much AP?

    February 5, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  3. FreeNLovIt

    Yeah, this is a really cool picture.

    February 5, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  4. Molly Weasley

    AP officials must be smoking something if they think they're going to win this one in court. Guess more papers are dropping AP than reported.

    February 5, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  5. Jim

    Another example of greedy corporatists at work. AP probably needs a spare million to give to it's CEO.

    February 5, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  6. rob

    do they want to shoot him ? Give me a break !

    February 5, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  7. shaking my head

    As a professional photographer myself – I would be disappointed if I found that someone used an image of mine for their own purposes without any inquiries for copyright release. This is stealing. Think of it as plagiarism through art.

    February 5, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  8. Justin from New Haven,CT

    The AP should go out of business, they're a third rate agency at this point.

    February 5, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  9. Alesia

    Did President Obama make a big issue about his likeness being used? EXACTLY! There's more things important to deal with! get over it! This country has bigger fish to fry if we can afford the oil!

    February 5, 2009 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  10. Jackie in Dallas

    Wonder why they waited over a year to file this? Maybe because President Obama WON? Associated Press, get over it. He used the outline of your photograph to create a painting. How is it different for you to use a photo taken of a grieving mother in Gaza taken without even her permission? Duh.

    February 5, 2009 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  11. Jake

    What joke this picture has turned out to be so far. So the far the Obama administration has been very similar to the WWE, very good marketing and packaging with very little substance behind it. Sorry Dems, every day is bringing a new debacle.

    February 5, 2009 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  12. Adam

    Looks like the banners that the communists paraded with in marches in front of the Kremlin.

    February 5, 2009 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  13. Michelle

    AP really needs to let this go. Clearly the original image did not have the impact as interpreted by the artist Shepard Fairey. We wouldn't even be talking about this had he not created this work. Ap is just being greedy and wants a piece of the pie. Shame on you AP.

    February 5, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  14. ReMiWa

    The AP should be ashamed of themselves!

    February 5, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  15. AnnMM

    The AP should kiss my .... never mind.

    February 5, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  16. Jackie in Dallas

    How is this different from the Associated Press taking pictures of people around the world without their knowledge or consent, and without paying them one dime, and use those images to sell papers?

    February 5, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  17. midwest mom

    whatever...AP, go cover some news...

    February 5, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  18. Cali Roberts

    As cool as Shepard Faireys images appear, the unfortunate reality is that the majority of the content in his images are stolen–not just referenced, but nabbed and used without giving credit to the source. he's a hack for a good cause.

    February 5, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  19. Jade

    Notice that one telltale word? "DONATED". Which doesn't necessitate getting any profit from whatever you donated. If you created it and intended to make profit from it, you should have protected it better. Period.

    February 5, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  20. rob

    when something is changed 10 / 20 % -it becomes original. I can see where he got the idea from , but these people must really need money.

    February 5, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  21. BB

    Money Money Money Money

    All the republicans want is ALL of the money

    February 5, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  22. John, Brooklyn, New York

    Good grief, AP...how cheap can you get?

    The PAINTING is only a DEPICTION of the photo, but it is not a reprinting of the original. It would be as if celebrities sued impersonators for using their images without royalties or politicians sued political cartoonists for capturing their essence to sell newspapers. Heck, Andy Warhol's famous soup can painting would BELONG to Campbell's using the AP's reasoning. In fact, stretching their logic to the extreme...ALL forms of parody would be lost because the artist would be forced to pay the creator of the original artifact.

    February 5, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  23. Ian Minneapolis, MN

    YES! I love our capitolist ways! Lets exploit a symbol of hope! Keep on keeping on! Regan should explode...oh wait...

    February 5, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  24. no corporate politics

    During the heady campaign, Obama followers had no trouble hacking email, creating phony videos, engineering caucuses. Why not stealing too?

    This is what the RepubliCrats (both) have done for years – it is not a Change.

    The article says the artist donated his efforts as if that makes it all OK. So if I stole money to give to the holy campaign, it would be OK?

    It is a huge joke that Obama nows promotes his religious faith but tolerated all manner of fuzzy moral actions and hate in his followers.

    February 5, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  25. Erich

    Actually, it's pretty basic copyright law. He should have asked permission first. I'm sure it would have been granted at little or no charge, then he would not be in this mess. If you wait until after you use someone else's work, then they have the advantage of knowing that what you did with it was actually valuable.

    February 5, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
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