AP Settles Suit Over ‘Hope’ T-shirts

The Associated Press announced Wednesday that it has settled its copyright infringement lawsuit against the clothing company it claims ripped off one of its photos for the Obama “Hope” T-shirt design. The case was set to go to trial in Manhattan Federal Court on March 21.
Under the agreement, Obey Clothing, which is licensed to manufacture designs by famed artist and guerrilla marketer Shepard Fairey, will not use another wire service photo without permission. The retailer maintains that the photo was legally used under the “fair use” doctrine, according to a statement. Yet the wire service is adamant that its intellectual property was misappropriated.
“This settlement marks the final resolution of the disputes over our rights in the AP’s photograph of Barack Obama. While it was a long road with many twists and turns along the way, the AP is proud of the result and will continue to vigorously defend its copyrighted photographs against wholesale copying and commercialization where there is no legitimate basis for asserting fair use,” AP President Tom Curley said in a statement.
The two sides have also agreed to go into business together to create new clothing designs by Fairey using AP photos. They would not discuss the financial terms of the deal.
“We look forward to working with those photographers, as part of our longstanding relationship with Shepard Fairey, to produce and market apparel with the new images that will be created. We have collaborated with other photographers and artists in the past, and hope that will be a successful endeavor for all parties,” Don Juncal, president of Obey, said in a statement.
With this settlement, the AP has also agreed to drop its similar copyright infringement claims against Nordstrom, Urban Outfitters and surf clothier Zumiez, which sold the tees.
Photo by David S. Holloway/Getty Images