Shepard Fairey Pleads Guilty in “Hope” Poster Case

Shepard Fairey (photo: christianrholland/flickr)
Shepard Fairey pleaded guilty to one count of criminal contempt for manufacturing evidence, destroying documents, and other misconduct in his case involving his “Hope” poster of Barack Obama. Reprehensible that he did behave so badly. It makes him look like a spoiled little rich kid who was trying to cover his ass when he got caught doing something wrong.

Last year, Fairey settled with the Associated Press over the misappropriation of (former) AP freelancer Manny Garcia’s photograph of Obama, which was snapped in 2006. Fairey originally claimed Fair Use, but a settlement was urged by a judge in the case.

As part of that settlement, which included an undisclosed sum, Fairey agreed to license any AP photos he may wish to use in future art work. Additionally, both the AP and Fairey will share the rights to create merchandise based on the image–and that means the profits from those items. At the time of the AP filing suit against Fairey, Garcia said according to his contract with the AP he owns the copyright to the photograph, and that he is proud of the image and happy what Fairey did with it. However,

I don’t condone people taking things, just because they can, off the Internet. But in this case I think it’s a very unique situation.

Fairey faces up to six months in prison, a year’s probation and fines of $5,000 in the criminal case. The hand painted version of the “Hope” poster that Fairey created on canvas as a commission hangs in the Smithsonian Institution’s National Gallery.

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