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. Mike, Syracuse NY

    @Pete, yes it's true. It's all part of the Council of Twelve's grand world conquest plan. Now that you know, you must be assimilated. Resistance is futile! Assimilate! Assimilate! Assimilate!

    February 5, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  2. Andre

    OBEY!

    February 5, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  3. Dieter Zerressen, Denver, CO

    It's not being "used". The artist painted an original portrait looking at that picture which was out in the world to be looked at. Did Warhol compensate Cambpells for that soup can drawing?

    February 5, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  4. JCool

    February 5th, 2009 2:41 pm ET

    to "Sarah for Prez", hope you dont' mean Sarah Palin for prez because she lost and she will never win. She is the biggest laughing stock of the world.
    =====
    Next to that do nothing community organizer who is unfortunately in office now...

    February 5, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  5. JCool

    February 5th, 2009 2:41 pm ET

    to "Sarah for Prez", hope you dont' mean Sarah Palin for prez because she lost and she will never win. She is the biggest laughing stock of the world.
    =====
    Next to that do nothing community organizer who is unfortunately in office now...

    February 5, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  6. Laurie Charnigo

    Well, the AP took a photo of Obama who, ultimately, is responsible for the image as it is HIS image. Copyright infringement or not...what a greedy bunch of buggers (the folks of the AP who stirred up this trouble). If they want credit, how about the artist just saying "thank you" to the person who took the photo and be done with the matter. We teach children in preschool to act better than this.

    February 5, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  7. Laurie Charnigo

    Well, the AP took a photo of Obama who, ultimately, is responsible for the image as it is HIS image. Copyright infringement or not...what a greedy bunch of buggers (the folks of the AP who stirred up this trouble). If they want credit, how about the artist just saying "thank you" to the person who took the photo and be done with the matter. We teach children in preschool to act better than this.

    February 5, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  8. Lauren the Designer

    Noah (you idiot)....

    Fairey is HARDLY starving. Why don't you take a little time to research him? He's an amazing and very well known artist. Just because it says "street artist" does not literally mean that one lives on the street.

    February 5, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  9. Matthew Detroit

    I hope Michelle gets a painting also. It would be very cool. She is so cool. I think it would all help us feel better about ourselves. Wow, what I just said was cool. Michelle for Pres in 2024. Cool.

    February 5, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  10. Rambeaux

    Since my last name is Blanks that means my picture is "clear". LOL – are you going to make me a celeberty? If you do, my wife & my daddy will slap you. umfff

    February 5, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  11. obama-mama

    Mississippi Mike you're funny.....Go back to watching cartoons

    February 5, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  12. Cakers

    All art yearns to be free.

    February 5, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  13. ogmb

    AP doesn't have much of a shot with this one. One of the key concepts of Fair Use is the "transformative" aspect of the derivative work, which in this case is pretty obvious, to the point that some people actually identified a different picture first as the template for the icon.

    The U.S. Supreme Court on Campbell v. Acuff-Rose: "the enquiry focuses on whether the new work merely supersedes the objects of the original creation, or whether and to what extent it is "transformative," altering the original with new expression, meaning, or message. The more transformative the new work, the less will be the significance of other factors, like commercialism, that may weigh against a finding of fair use."

    February 5, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  14. Salt

    I wonder what the average age of people posting in here is.
    You all sound like silly children.

    February 5, 2009 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  15. Vincent Petrosino

    Has the Associated Press ever heard of the Fair Use Act? This is disgusting and shows what corporations do to the little man and small businesses. This is a poor attempt at trying to cash in on a best selling image of our president that was used during the primary. I know this because a copy was in our office during the primary as we volunteered for Obama in PA. Why did not AP say something then? Because Obama had not been elected yet and its value was not what it is today. Shame on you AP!

    February 5, 2009 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  16. Jamara For Pres.Obama

    The AP is just trying to make a buck!!! It's GREED!!!!! I hope Fairey wins this lawsuit, because is a down right shame!

    February 5, 2009 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  17. Anonymous

    The original didn't have HOPE on the poster either. The gentleman who created it was contacted by the Obama campaign to change it to HOPE.

    February 5, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  18. dennisk

    The AP will lose this one, as they should. I suspect they'll waste a lot of money on lawyers that would be better spent on proofreaders and fact-checkers.

    February 5, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  19. California Gold

    I can empathize with the photographer. You can imagine my surprise when my artwork was used, without permission, for a travel magazine cover. Hope they resolve the dispute.

    February 5, 2009 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  20. mauidj

    The artist has a history of plagiarism and this is just another example of how he has built a career off the backs of other peoples work..
    This is an exact copy of a photograph with some minor, and very juvenile Photoshop work added. No freehand or creative "art" work here people.
    Also, to say he has not made money from this is as insincere as the work itself.
    My only comment would be that AP are a bit slow in objecting to it's use and that makes their claims a bit suspect.
    But to say it's not ripping off the originator is just not true.

    February 5, 2009 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  21. Joe Unger, San Francisco

    So the image is a fraud. Is the man?

    February 5, 2009 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  22. Jim Klempton

    This is a funny story as i was photographing an event and apparently a AP photog was right next to me. (we got the same picture from the same angle. Down the road, the AP tried to claim that photo as there as well. My lawyer make quick work of their worthless claim. Don't they have anything better to do then bother the little guys......

    Apparently not

    February 5, 2009 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  23. Amber

    AP should get a cut, but this is definitely a case where Fair Use could be used as a defense.

    My inlaws are both IP lawyers. But I'm not an IP lawyer, so take what I say grain of salt.

    February 5, 2009 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  24. Wheres the change

    obama-mama February 5th, 2009 2:57 pm ET

    Mississippi Mike you're funny…..Go back to watching cartoons
    ==============
    And you go back and wait for your check!! Ha ha

    February 5, 2009 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  25. Derrick

    Another example of a Huge Company stepping hard on a little guy trying to earn a buck. please!

    February 5, 2009 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9