Hold On A Sec: AP Still Fighting Over Shepard Fairey ‘Hope’ Pic

So now that Shepard Fairey and the AP came together and announced a settlement this week over Fairey’s Obama “Hope” poster–mutually agreeing to cash in together on future revenue from the art–the whole issue is dropped, right?


THR Esq.‘s Eriq Gardner writes that the battle over the “Hope” image is far from over. Still unresolved is the matter of whether Fairey’s artistic rendering of the AP image is considered “fair use.” While Fairey no longer has to deal with the issue, licensees who made money selling “Hope” posters and t-shirts are still on the AP‘s legal radar.

Gardner explains:

Even as AP was coming to resolution with Fairey himself, the media organization was continuing to pursue claims against the companies that licensed the “HOPE” image — directly or indirectly — from Fairey. Just a few days before a judge in the case dismissed AP’s claims against Fairey as the result of a settlement, the AP filed a motion for summary judgment against those licensees, who allegedly made millions of dollars in t-shirt sales adorned with the “HOPE” image.

But let’s back up for a moment.

When Fairey first filed his lawsuit against the AP, seeking a declaration of his rights, and AP counter-sued, the case was expected to be a significant one, testing among other things, whether news photography deserves copyright protection, the boundaries of creative expression to make “fair use” and transform original work, and the supposed unlawfulness of finding an image on the Internet and stripping away a copyright notice.

The case, and attention to it, then got distracted upon word that Fairey had lied during the process and spoiled evidence.

Now that those distractions have been taken care of as the result of the settlement, perhaps the case becomes important once again.

Very interesting. Gardner points to a case involving the company One 3 Two as the one to watch.

Previously on Fishbowl LA: AP and Shepard Fairey Announce Settlement, Collaboration