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Shepard Fairey admits to wrongdoing in Associated Press lawsuit

October 16, 2009 |  7:29 pm


In a strange twist to an already complicated legal situation, artist Shepard Fairey admitted today to legal wrongdoing in his ongoing battle with the Associated Press.

Fairey said in a statement issued late Friday that he knowingly submitted false images and deleted others in the legal proceedings, in an attempt to conceal the fact that the AP had correctly identified the photo that Fairey had used as a reference for his "Hope" poster of then-Sen. Barack Obama.

"Throughout the case, there has been a question as to which Mannie Garcia photo I used as a reference to design the HOPE image," Fairey said. "The AP claimed it was one photo, and I claimed it was another."

New filings to the court, he said, "state for the record that the AP is correct about which photo I used...and that I was mistaken. While I initially believed that the photo I referenced was a different one, I discovered early on in the case that I was wrong. In an attempt to conceal my mistake I submitted false images and deleted other images." 

In February, the AP claimed that Fairey violated copyright laws when he used one of their images as the basis for the poster.  In response, the artist filed a lawsuit against the AP, claiming that he was protected under fair use. Fairey also claimed that he used a different photo as the inspiration for his poster.

After Fairey's admission, a spokesman for the Associated Press issued a statement saying that Fairey "sued the AP under false pretenses by lying about which AP photograph he used."

Fairey said that his lawyers have taken the steps to amend his court pleadings to reflect the fact that "the AP is correct about which photo I used as a reference and that I was mistaken."

The artist expressed his remorse in his statement, saying that he is taking "full responsibility for my actions which were mine alone. I am taking every step to correct the information and I regret I did not come  forward sooner. "

He added: "I am very sorry to have hurt and disappointed colleagues, friends, and family who have supported me in this difficult case and trying time in my life."

Fairey's statement said he regretted that his actions would distract from the issue of fair use for artists. "Regardless of which of the two images was used, the fair use issue should be the same," he said.

Keep checking back with Culture Monster as this story develops.

-- David Ng

Photo: Shepard Fairey. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (162)

I Found this story very shocking. one must always maintain originality. I can't say it's an honest mistake but i am not dissapointed. The man is honest.

Wow. It's plainly obvious to me that all the hellfire and damnation posted here is from the stone-throwing, self-righteous, cry babies on the right size of the isle. Cry me a river. You guys lost.

Shepard's HOPE poster has done more to unite this country under one man (now President) than any other artist has ever done in the history of American politics. Well, maybe except for that chick Betsy that designed the American flag. Good job Betsy.

You are forgiven Mr. Fairy. And forgiveness is a very important virtue you REPS need to learn how to use because I guarantee you'll be asking someone else for theirs someday.

Bush outed Valerie Plame, CIA operative in retaliation for her husband exposing his Niger yellow cake lie. Bush went to war against Iraq because he wanted to.Cheney pounded the intelligence services till they gave the answers he wanted, gave billions of no-bid contracts to his company,Haliburton and shot his friend in the face while hunting under the influence.

Shepard Fairey got his moral compass from his life abd upbringing not Obama. Let's remember the last eight years accurately.

Dude makes good shirts out of others designs and pictures. He has stolen everything he makes.

He had a perfectly good fair-use case; it takes a lot more to paint something than to snap a photo.

I don't see why he chose to perjure himself and to deprive Mannie Garcia of credit. Poor judgment and bad manners.

I've always had odd feelings about Fairey. He has made many comments about the public being too stupid to understand art and all they understand is repetition hence his repetitive images all of which are "borrowed" from former art sources. He is smart about making money.
My friend lives in Boston next to a building with his posters stuck to the walls. It's an ugly eyesore. The neighbors worked for over 20 yrs to improve the neighborhood and now they have to deal with this crap.

I keep thinking all this shallow hate talk against the president will die down, but apparently these people can't hear themselves enough, or perhaps they're foolish enough to think that they can change other people's mind if they prattle on in large enough numbers. I'm an emerging artist myself and I'd love to have the breaks Shepard Fairey has had, but I don't begrudge him any of them. I also think he's in the clear about his fair use of the AP photo. He changed it significantly enough for me to consider it fair use.

people you knew this about Obama already? HELLO. I'm black and voted Republican..but you don't have to dog him(obama) out and be all racial(hence the 'barry' comment) about it, i mean he's not the devil...goodness. judge him on his character not color..HUCKPAC 2012

Though not about Shepard Fairey, one reader has commented here: "Wow. It's plainly obvious to me that all the hellfire and damnation posted here is from the stone-throwing, self-righteous, cry babies on the right size of the isle. Cry me a river. You guys lost."

Wow, was it plainly obvious to you also that he right side of the isle had to listen to 8 years of blubbering, wailing, bile, and Bush-bashing from the media, nevertheless from blogs and opinion sites online? How supportive of "our" president were you then? Though not a Bush supporter myself, in considering that all of the acts coming out of Washington since Jan.20th of this year are shoving America right off of an economic cliff, I would say that we've all lost, big time, in this last election.

"Obama is not a socialist"

True. He appears rather to be a Maoist. Anita Dunn is helping out with the indoctrination of youth on that point.

"and your biggest celebrity (Rush) called him a fascist, so both can't be true. Get an education, they mean the opposite."

The two terms (socialist and fascist) do not "mean the opposite." They are two types of statism...one (fascism) is nationalist, and the other is internationalist.

this is like watching paint dry ! .. IS THERE NO MORE IMPORTANT THINGS IN LIFE ? please enough is enough....


at the article the credit for the photo is still Fairey:

Photo: Shepard Fairey. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times



Scooter Libby went to jail for doing ONLY PART of what "Sheppy" herein did.... Sheppy not only DESTROYED evidence, he LIED under oath (YES, a signed Original Petition with which to begin a lawsuit, IS an OATH ), and he CONCEALED evidence. It probably constitutes PERJURY as well.
Sheppy should go to jail too.... JUST LIKE Scooter Libby was required to do.
OR, alternatively ( because Sheppy worked for the OBAMA CAMPAIGN, he can probably exercise his right to the usual DOUBLE STANDARD extended to the Obama nut-balls....

Posted by: ScooterLibby

On June 5, 2007, the presiding trial judge, Reggie B. Walton, sentenced Libby to 30 months in federal prison, a fine of $250,000, and two years of supervised release, including 400 hours of community service,[11][12][13][14] and then ordered Libby to begin his sentence immediately.[15] On July 2, 2007, when Libby's appeal of Judge Walton's order failed, President Bush commuted Libby's 30-month prison sentence, leaving the other parts of his sentence intact.

The truly pathetic thing here is that Libby was only one of the group of conspirators who prevaricated and committed treason to protect their own lies used to drag America into the Iraq war costing tens of thousands in lives and trillions in dollars. It is disheartening to watch you small minded people go nuts on Obama after the fascist Bush damaged so much of what it means to be an American.

Fair use generally applies to situations where an exact image or exact duplicate of an image (i.e. a photo of a printed photo) is reused without permission from the owner.

That's not the case here. Shepard reinterpreted the image. He recreated it.

He's not using the original image.

Therefore fair use should apply.

Fair use rules have been loosening over the last couple of years due to need (i.e. the glut of media churning out of the physical and online world).

This case is just a photographer looking for a paycheck and the media looking for a scapegoat.

The fact that he lied and sued the AP wrongly sucks, but it doesn't change the fact that fair use is in Shepard's favor and he should have never had to defend himself in the first place.

This is an extremely complicated case -- the AP has apparently lied, Garcia has lied (he changed his statements regarding his thoughts of Shepard's use of the photo) and for sometime there was a debate regarding who actually holds the copyright.

Not so sure why this news story pulls the birthers out of hiding to rant against Obama. FYI, he didn't have anything to do with this story apart from his image being used. You know that, right? And you know that a lot of politicians - left, right, whatever - lie about worse things too? Just checking.

So the artist turns out to be just as big a fraud as the subject eh? Talk albout Art imitating life, lol.

"Regardless of which of the two images was used, the fair use issue should be the same,"

exactly. so, let's move on.

i cannot believe how many buffoons from the right are coming out in droves to scream their 'righteous' disappointment.

where were you when the criminals in the white house LIED to the whole world and started illegal wars massacring hundreds of thousands of innocent people???

you guys really have no shame.

In what way is this copyright infringement? We were always taught (in our graphics art classes) that you can take an idea or image and if you make SIGNIFICANT CHANGES to it, it literally becomes "yours" and is NOT copyright violation. Is this not correct? We are confused.

Seriously, shouldn't Obama have any say? This image looks an awful lot like Obama's his likeliness... The photographer took 1/100 or 1/1000th of a second to "record" an image that Obama spent a lifetime creating here... It is seriously flawed logic to say anyone but Obama owns the right to this image without explicitly granting the AP rights. OR... Can I take a photograph of IBM's logo and call it my own?

Whoa...these comments are great!! I thought I was one of the few conservatives reading the Times...

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