Jake Turcotte - not an AP image, we promise
The Associated Press alleges copyright infringement for an image of Barack Obama created by street artist Shepard Fairey. Fairey's lawyers say the image is protected under fair use provisions.

Associated Press wants money from Obama artist

It would be hard to imagine the 2008 presidential campaign without him. It would have lacked some artistry, inspiration, and hope.

No, we're not talking about Joe the Plumber. We're talking about Shepard Fairey.

Iconic image

Never heard of him? You've seen his work. He's the one that created the iconic image of Barack Obama that was everywhere. Although it wasn't official Obama campaign material, it seemed like it. It was that prevalent.

It became so popular that the Obama Presidential Inaugural Committee took the image and created Office Space-like "flair" out of it.

You could (and still can) order a "Hope" button, pin, sticker, t-shirt, and of course posters. Unfortunately, no Swingline staplers.

Shop now and save

"We just released a commemorative poster designed by Los Angeles artist Shepard Fairey in honor of President-elect Obama’s Inauguration," the committee announced last month. "It’s now available as a gift for grassroots supporters who donate $20.00 to help make this Inauguration the most inclusive and accessible one in history," reads the website.

"Fairey designed this special image to celebrate President-elect Obama’s Inauguration. It echoes his famous “HOPE” poster, which was ubiquitous during the 2008 presidential campaign."

Pay up

That earlier image is now in the middle of a messy fight.

The Associated Press wants some of the action (money). They say they're entitled to compensation because the artist created the image from an AP photo.

"The Associated Press has determined that the photograph used in the poster is an AP photo and that its use required permission," the AP's director of media relations, Paul Colford, said in a statement. "AP safeguards its assets and looks at these events on a case-by-case basis. We have reached out to Mr. Fairey's attorney and are in discussions. We hope for an amicable solution."

No dough

The artist doesn't agree. His lawyers say it's fair use.

"We believe fair use protects Shepard's right to do what he did here," Anthony Falzone told the Associated Press. "It wouldn't be appropriate to comment beyond that at this time because we are in discussions about this with the AP."

Where's it go now? Who knows. We'll wait to find out.


Oh yeah, in the spirit of Cliff Claven, here's a little known fact about the image.

The LA Times's Andy Malcolm reveals that the photo Fairey created the image from was snapped while Obama was listening to a Republican speak! The ever-inspiring Kansas Senator Sam Brownback.

"Oh, the irony!", howls Malcolm.

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