Friday, October 16, 2009

Shepard Fairey v. AP ~ Fairey's Falsehoods and Fabrications

The Associated Press has released a statement regarding the case brought against them by Shepard Fairey. In a remarkable turn of events, according to the AP, "Shepard Fairey has now been forced to admit that he sued the AP under false pretenses by lying about which AP photograph he used to make the Hope and Progress posters." Further, the AP is stating that not only have Fairey's attorneys sought the permission of the court to withdrawl from the case, but that "Mr. Fairey has also now admitted to the AP that he fabricated and attempted to destroy other evidence in an effort to bolster his fair use case and cover up his previous lies and omissions."


Complete statement follows:

(Continued after the Jump)

Statement from Srinandan R. Kasi, VP and General Counsel, The Associated Press
Striking at the heart of his fair use case against the AP, Shepard Fairey has now been forced to admit that he sued the AP under false pretenses by lying about which AP photograph he used to make the Hope and Progress posters. Mr. Fairey has also now admitted to the AP that he fabricated and attempted to destroy other evidence in an effort to bolster his fair use case and cover up his previous lies and omissions.

In his Feb. 9, 2009 complaint for a declaratory judgment against the AP, Fairey falsely claimed to have used an AP photograph of George Clooney sitting next to then-Sen. Barack Obama as the source of the artist’s Hope and Progress posters. However, as the AP correctly alleged in its March 11, 2009 response, Fairey had instead used a close-up photograph of Obama from the same press event, which is an exact match for Fairey's posters. In its response, the AP also correctly surmised that Fairey had attempted to hide the true identity of the source photo in order to help his case by arguing that he had to make more changes to the source photo than he actually did, i.e., that he at least had to crop it.

After filing the complaint, Fairey went on to make several public statements in which he insisted that the photo with George Clooney was the source image and that “The AP is showing the wrong photo.” It appears that these statements were also false, as were statements that Fairey made describing how he cropped Clooney out of the photo and made other changes to create the posters.

Fairey’s lies about which photo was the source image were discovered after the AP had spent months asking Fairey's counsel for documents regarding the creation of the posters, including copies of any source images that Fairey used. Fairey's counsel has now admitted that Fairey tried to destroy documents that would have revealed which image he actually used. Fairey's counsel has also admitted that he created fake documents as part of his effort to conceal which photo was the source image, including hard copy printouts of an altered version of the Clooney Photo and fake stencil patterns of the Hope and Progress posters. Most recently, on Oct. 15, Fairey’s counsel informed the AP that they intended to seek the Court’s permission to withdraw as counsel for Fairey and his related entities.

The AP intends to vigorously pursue its countersuit alleging that Fairey willfully infringed the AP's copyright in the close-up photo of then-Sen. Obama by using it without permission to create the Hope and Progress posters and related products, including T-shirts and sweatshirts that have led to substantial revenue. According to the AP's in-house counsel, Laura Malone, "Fairey has licensed AP photos in the past for similar uses and should have done so in this case. As a not-for-profit news organization, the AP depends on licensing revenue to stay in business." Proceeds received for past use of the photo will be contributed by the AP to The AP Emergency Relief Fund, which assists staffers and their families around the world who are victims of natural disasters and conflicts.
Well, that about wraps things up for Fairey's claims - and now the AP will have a bunker full of ammunition against Fairey in seeking their countersuit.

AP Link to motions and exhibits here.

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Giulio Sciorio said...

Sweet! Glad that copy artist owned up.

Michelle Jones said...

What a pillock! He should've told the truth in the first place. I suppose that he gets press out of this there is even a facebook app now that 'obamaizes' your profile pic. Even if he does have to pay AP a settlement or fine, he's going down in history.

Anonymous said...

True, it "wraps things up" for his claims of which photo he used, but it still doesn't settle the fair use matter. It just shows that he's an idiot whose willing to lie to bulster his case. But from a legal standpoint, that can't really come into play when examining the fair use argument, can it? Doesn't the court need to treat it as though he had been honest all along? If he had said form the beginning, "The AP is right about which photo I used," there would still be a fair use case to decide.

J. Michael Krouskop said...

If you look back on Shephard Fairey's life story, you'll see why this latest theft is not so unique. The main thing that launched his career, the Andre the Giant has a Posse campaign wasn't his idea, but rather something he took credit for, because the actual artist was anonymous. There are several things in his history that make this current behavior the norm rather than the exception.

Anonymous said...

just curious, isn't there currently a photographer also suing AP for the right to the photo in question, because when he took the photo, he was freelance, and not working for AP? Does this result change that suit?

Darrell said...

I noticed, rather recently, that there are two versions of the image floating around cyberspace. The earliest version of the photo used in the posters looks like posterization and a few touch-ups, but the underlying image wasn't altered. Later versions look altered. For example, the lines next to the nose and mouth have been erased, the eyebrows have been raised slightly and the eyes have a more "uplifting" gaze. Obama's left ear seems different, too. It's a subtle difference, one that most casual observers might not notice, but it's there nonetheless. When I first noticed it, I wondered if someone was trying to create the impression that the image had been altered in that way all along, as if to suggest that the derivative work contained a degree of new expression from the beginning.

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