Shepard Fairey. Strike 2 on Copyright Infringement. Obama ‘Hope’ and ‘Jessica’
by Peter Zack
What I find galling in these 2 cases is that the ‘artist’ Shepard Fairey would consider it fine to steal the work of other artists to create his work. Fairey took the work of 2 different photographers and transformed these works to his liking, then claiming it was his original work. The 2 cases are different in many respects, they do share a common theme, the unauthorised or non-credited use of someone else s work. He then did everything possible to avoid or hide the fact he’d stolen the work in the case of the AP image or avoided giving Dina Douglass her due credit for her original work. In Dina’s case, that’s all she asked for.
In researching this article, there have been many sites that claimed there was no foul since the original artist in the case of the Obama image didn’t know the image had been used. In the case of the Douglass image, it seems although he asked at first to use the work and provide credit, he then failed to do so and I would guess because he thought the photographer wouldn’t find out or follow up. Wrong, she did and I’m glad.
Photographers have only one thing, the copyright to their images. That allows them to continue creating and earning a living. In the Case of Dina Douglass, she wasn’t looking for money, since she donated the work. In certain situations such as this, she was only interested in the added exposure and to support the charity (Lance Armstrong auction for cancer). Even though she’s named as one of the “Top Ten Wedding photographers” by American Photo magazine, a little exposure doesn’t hurt and in the process, supporting a cause she believes in.
Well it seems Mr Fairey has been caught twice now, stealing other peoples work and transforming it, then claiming it as his own or at the least, not providing credit to the original copyright holders. He now faces up to 6 months in jail in the AP case as well as settlements with both AP and Dina Douglass in her case.
He claimed that:
‘Violating the court’s trust was the worst thing I have ever done in my life,’ said Fairey, 42, of Los Angeles. ‘I was ashamed as I did all these things, and I remain ashamed.’
Well he couldn’t have been that ashamed as he did the same thing again with the Dina Douglass image, “Jessica” after he created ‘Hope”. He’s ashamed that he got caught, plain and simple.
You can read the full background stories about both here:
Artist behind iconic Obama poster faces six months in jail
This is one “artist” (term used loosely) that I ‘hope’ (pardon the pun) fades into the distance, never to be famous again. If he does pop up again, check your portfolio against his.
Cheers and good shooting
Tags: Appropriation, Copyright, Dina Douglass, Hope, Obama, Photography, Shepard Fairey