February 26, 2009

The age old debate continues...

Shepard Fairy Vs. The AP


Although this is not breaking news, it is the age old debate of who owns the rights to an image - the photographer who took the image (or in this case the AP who the photographer was working for), or the artist who interpreted the photo and added his own personal touches and emotion to an otherwise bland image.

One could argue that because Fairey has earned some mainstream notoriety over the poster and most likely a substantial amount of monies from his artwork, the AP has just now decided it wants a piece of the pie. The artwork has been around for at least a year and only now has this become news, after Fairey had tried to give credit to the photog in the first place. (Other photograhers have said they thought Fairey had taken the likeness from their photo of the president elect). The AP has sued Fairey over the ordeal stating the work is a copyright infringement. Of course Fairey is claiming that his artwork is protected under the "fair use" doctrine. Click here to read more. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

This is not the first or last time this issue will be debated. It has been discussed multiple times in our own shop when illustrating from a photograph. In this particular case, if the original photo is so inspirational, why not promote it on it's own in a free market for your own monetary gains, if you so choose. But without Shepard Fairey's artistic approach and mainstream noteriety, I beleive this would be a non-issue. What do you think? - Todd


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Good info. Thanks Justin. I'm guessing in that case, Fairey will actually let it get to litigation instead of settling out of court. Sounds like Fairey has a good lawyer as well. Should be an interesting conclusion. Stay tuned.

One note, the AP actually threatened to sue Fairey, and in response Fairey actually sued them first to have a court rule it is fair use and set a precedent for other artists.

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