Monday, March 23, 2009

Touchdown Steelerbaby, Pittsburgh City Paper, 3/19/09

Via Pittsburgh City Paper: Touchdown Steelerbaby:

"Fairey's own Obama poster is now the subject of litigation with the Associated Press, which claims the poster's imagery improperly borrowed one of its photographs. Obey Giant Art's [cease and desist] notice was delivered the same day the AP filed suit.

When news of Fairey's reversal hit the Internet, in fact, some bloggers speculated the lawsuit was the reason for the change. AP, some suggested, might have used Fairey's attack on Steelerbaby to bolster its own challenge.

But Michael Madison, a trademark and copyright-law professor at the University of Pittsburgh, says that the two situations raise totally different legal issues. AP is accusing Fairey of violating copyright laws, which govern writing, photos and other original work. Fairey's objection to Steelerbaby, meanwhile, was that it violated trademark laws, which govern logos and words used to identify a company's products. Different legal questions apply in those situations, Madison says. Legally speaking, "There is no inconsistency to what Fairey is doing."

On the other hand, Madison adds, "It looks like there is some inconsistency at the conceptual level." After all, Madison says, "He's staked his career on appropriating other peoples' works.""

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