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Shepard Fairey Sues the Associated Press Over Obama Image
A vendor shows a shirt with the image of United States President Barack Obama at Sukhumvit Road, in the center of Bangkok. The image of Obama was designed by street artist Shepard Fairey, who admitted that he was inspired by an image made by Associated Press photographer Mannie Garcia. Photo: EFE/Barbara Walton

NEW YORK, NY.- Shepard Fairey, the artist who designed the now famous Barack Obama Hope poster has filed a lawauit in New York against the Associated Press. Last week the Associated Press challenged Fairey when it declared that the poster was based on an image taken by AP photographer Mannie Garcia.

The Los Angeles-based artist and his company, Obey Giant Art Inc., used the AP photograph “as a visual reference for a highly transformative purpose,” according to the complaint. “Fairey altered the original with new meaning, new expression and new messages,” Bloomberg reported today.

The New York Times reported that the lawsuit was "asking a federal judge to declare that he is protected from copyright infringement claims in his use of a news photograph as the basis for a now ubiquitous campaign poster image of President Obama."

Fairey was arrested on Friday night when he was entering a party for his most recent exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston.

There has been a lot of talk coming and going in the past few months wether the Obama poster was or was not plagiarized. Milton Glazer stated in Print Magazine: For myself—this is subjective—I find the relationship between Fairey’s work and his sources discomforting. Nothing substantial has been added. In my own case, when I did the Dylan poster, I acknowledged using Duchamp’s profile as an influence. I think unless you’re modifying it and making it your own, you’re on very tenuous ground.

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