Saturday, October 17, 2009

A.P. Says Shepard Fairey Lied About ‘Hope’ Poster; New York Times, 10/16/09

Anahad O'Connor, New York Times; A.P. Says Shepard Fairey Lied About ‘Hope’ Poster:

"Lawyers for the visual artist who created the famous “Hope” poster of Barack Obama have acknowledged that he lied about which photograph he based the poster on and that he fabricated evidence in an effort to bolster his lawsuit against The Associated Press, according to a statement released by The A.P. on Friday night.

The artist, Shepard Fairey, is best known for his iconic poster of Mr. Obama — head cocked to one side, eyes pointed skyward — that gained international recognition during the presidential election. The A.P. sought credit and compensation from Mr. Fairey earlier this year, claiming that the poster was based on one of its photographs and that Mr. Fairey needed permission to use it. Mr. Fairey then filed suit against The A.P. in February, citing fair-use exceptions to copyright law, which prompted The A.P. to file a countersuit in March, claiming “misappropriation.”

But in a statement released Friday night, Srinandan R. Kasi, The A.P.’s general counsel, said that Mr. Fairey’s lawyers had acknowledged he lied when he claimed in court papers that he used a different photograph of Mr. Obama than the one The A.P. has alleged.

“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,” Mr. Kasi said. “Fairey’s counsel has now admitted that Fairey tried to destroy documents that would have revealed which image he actually used.”
Lawyers for Mr. Fairey also acknowledged that he created fake documents to conceal which image he used and fake stencil patterns of the “Hope” and “Progress” posters, Mr. Kasi said. The statement hinted at turmoil between Mr. Fairey and his lawyers, and suggested The A.P. would continue its battle with the artist.

“Fairey’s counsel informed the AP that they intended to seek the Courts permission to withdraw as counsel for Fairey and his related entities,” Mr. Kasi said. “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.”

Update 12:55 a.m. A lawyer for Mr. Fairey, Anthony Falzone, wrote in an e-mail message early Saturday morning: “This is a very unfortunate situation. I hope it does not obscure the underlying issues of fair use and free expression at the center of this case. But as Mr. Fairey’s attorney, it would not be appropriate for me to comment beyond that.”"

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