Shepard Fairey Admits “He Lied” About Obama Poster Image.

Posted on October 18, 2009


Shepard Fairey Admits “He Lied” About Obama Poster Image.

A new twist in the controversial case of Shepard Fairey and the copyright infringement case filed against him by the Associated Press has taken on a new dimension. Fairey admits he lied about which image he used to create the now famous Obama poster. He has also admitted to attempting to conceal the truth by submitting false evidence to the court and his attorney.


“In an attempt to conceal my mistake, I submitted false images and deleted other images,” Mr. Fairey said in a statement, released on his Web site. “I sincerely apologize for my lapse in judgment, and I take full responsibility for my actions, which were mine alone.” Shepard Fairey

Read More Here

Artist Admits Using Other Photo for ‘Hope’ Poster

Fairey who has been represented by Attorney Anthony Falzone of the Stanford University Fair Use Project is now looking for a new lawyer. Falzone has said it would be effectively impossible to represent a client in this situation. Falzone is withdrawing from the case.

The big disappoint here is that Fairey has taken the stance that he intended to pursue the right of an artist to use an image as a source under the Fair Use and Transformation  factor of copyright law to create a new and unique work of art. Which I believe is a very important issue today given the growth of modern media.

Before you get your back up stop and ask yourself the question, is there anything really new in the world of creating images that does not reference some historical source?

The whole issue is a Can of Worms that Fairey opened under false pretenses when he decided to lie and create false documents. I guess the question is why? Because under the Fair Use rule it would not have made any difference to his case according to his attorney Anthony Falzone. The fact that Fairey lied about which image he used however does change the issue. Now he is not an Artist who used a source image to create a new work of art; he is a, perjure, a liar. That changes the focus of his defense from Fair Use to Perjury.

Shepard Fairey has stepped up now, has taken full responsibility for his actions, and admitted his mistake. As disappointed as I am that he lied I have to give him credit for now telling the truth.

The truth is today it is far more complicated to make images than every before and it is just going to get more complex in the future. Just look at just about any TV commercial and you will see a reference to familiar imagery. The same is true in modern image making. We have all been assaulted with the imagery of the past. Because we are human, we react to the familiar. I think recognizing the fact that we individually do retain an image vocabulary of our own, built upon a history of images of the past; we need to be truthful to our audience and ourselves and give credit to the source, the influence. This may not help you as far as the Law is concerned but it will help you be truthful about your work and your influences and inspiration. It may help you make more honest art.

We only need to look back in time a short way to the DaDa and Pop Art movements to reference the obvious. Warhol’s Campbell Soup Cans or DaDa collages. It is not about the source it is about the truth. We are not even close to figuring out the complexities of modern image making. What we have to decide as artists is, are we going to pursue the question or are we going to allow the courts to decide for us? If you never achieve fame, it is probably not a very important issue, but if you do, it might be. Guess Shepard Fairey found out.

An Important Footnote to the Story and the AP Case

Manny Garcia the Photographer who took the Obama image has filed his own suit against the Associated Press AP. Garcia stated in court documents that AP has never owned the copyright to the image in question. Garcia stated he was hired to photograph George Clooney and that he never assigned the copyrights of the Obama image to AP. Garcia contends he alone owns the copyright to the Obama image, which Fairey used.

Read my original post here:

Copyright Fair Use and the Transformative Factor, by David Eubank

Check it out for Yourself

Resource: Stanford University Library Copyright and Fair Use

CHAPTER 9. Fair Use

B. Measuring Fair Use: The Four Factors