Poster Artist Sues AP in Copyright Fight

Fairey says use of agency's photo constitutes fair use
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 10, 2009 6:19 AM CST
A poster of Barack Obama by artist Shepard Fairey alongside with this April 27, 2006 file photo of then-Sen. Barack Obama by AP photographer Manny Garcia at the National Press Club in Washington.   (AP Photo/Manny Garcia/ Shepard Fairey)
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(Newser) – Shepard Fairey, the artist behind the iconic Obama "Hope" poster, filed a lawsuit against the AP yesterday as a preemptive strike in their copyright dispute. The artist has asked a federal judge to rule that his work constitutes fair use of a copyrighted image. Fairey's suit comes after the news agency wrote to the artist and demanded payment and a share of the proceeds he earned from the poster.

As the New York Times writes, the fair use exception allows artists to employ copyrighted materials in a limited fashion, such as a critique or parody. The AP said it was "disappointed by the surprise filing," while Fairey's lawyers blasted the agency for "misguided threats." In a further complication, the photographer who took the original image has claimed that he, and not the AP, owns the copyright in question.