Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Obama Poster Photographer Says He Owns the Picture; New York Times, 7/15/09

Randy Kennedy via New York Times; Obama Poster Photographer Says He Owns the Picture:

"A freelance photographer who took the picture of Barack Obama that became the basis for Shepard Fairey’s well-known “Hope” poster has filed court papers arguing that The Associated Press, for whom he was working temporarily at the time, does not own the copyright to the picture.

The photographer, Mannie Garcia, said that he worked for The Associated Press for five weeks in the spring of 2006, when he took the picture of Mr. Obama listening intently at an event concerning Darfur at the National Press Club in Washington. Mr. Garcia contends in his papers, filed July 8 in federal court in Manhattan, that he received no benefits or vacation from The Associated Press during his time working for the news service and “never agreed to assign his copyright rights” to any photographs he took, so that he owns them and should benefit from any profits made from them.

Mr. Fairey and The Associated Press have been locked in a court battle for several months over the Obama image. The Associated Press contends that it owns the copyright to the picture and that Mr. Fairey misappropriated it. Mr. Fairey is seeking a declaratory judgment that his borrowing is protected under fair-use exceptions to copyright law, which allow limited use of protected materials for purposes like criticism or comment.

George F. Carpinello, Mr. Garcia’s lawyer, said that his client is saying “neither one of you should win this case - I should win this case.” A spokesman for The Associated Press said that it is “evaluating Mannie Garcia’s position, but remains confident in AP’s ownership of the copyright because Mr. Garcia was an employee of AP when he took the photo in 2006.”"

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