The AP had twice threatened a copyright infringement lawsuit against Mr. Fairey, but was holding off on filing as the company tried to negotiate a settlement with the artist. “AP believes it is crucial to protect photographers, who are creators and artists,” said AP spokesman Paul Colford. “Their work should not be misappropriated by others.”
Clearly Mr. Fairey is a man who either does not recognize boundaries or does not respect them in his pursuit of his personal freedom of expression. He has unquestionably created a dynamic portrait from Mannie Garcia’s photograph, but the photograph also stands alone as a powerful image.
The topic of the transformative use of others’ photographs came up frequently in my art college days. One of my printmaking professors had done a stunning limited edition lithograph based on a photograph by Margaret Bourke-White, the first photographer for Fortune magazine and the first woman photojournalist for Life magazine. Penciled in the artist’s hand on each lithographic print in the edition is the title: “Transcribed from a 1937 photograph by Margaret Bourke-White.” In this case the artist did not appropriate the photographer’s image, he humbly paid homage to it.
Creator of iconic Obama portrait arrested (Yahoo News; February 7, 2009)
Obama Hope artist seeks ‘fair use’ ruling in copyright fight with AP (CBC News.ca; February 9, 2009)
Obama ‘Hope’ Artist Arrested In Boston (WCVB-TV/DT; February 7, 2009)
AP Sued by Shepard Fairey Over Obama Image Copyright (Update2) (Bloomberg.com; February 9, 2009)
Shepard Fairey pleads not guilty to Hub vandalism (Boston Herald; February 9, 2009)