Shepard Fairey, AP Settle Obama ‘Hope’ Poster Copyright Case

Associated Press, street artist come to agreement; suit over use in Obey clothing continues

The Associated Press and Shepard Fairey have settled their copyright dispute over the iconic Obama “Hope” poster Fairey created during the 2008 presidential campaign.

The AP, Fairey and his Obey Giant and Studio Number One businesses, have “agreed in principle” to settle their pending copyright infringement lawsuits over rights in the Obama Hope poster and related merchandise.

Financial terms of the settlement were not disclosed. The announcement comes a day after a judge in the case dismissed the lawsuits after a "suggestion of settlement" was made.

Fairey used an AP portrait photograph of Obama in making the Hope poster without licensing it from the news service.

The AP contended that the street artist “copied all of the original, creative expression in the photograph” without license or credit. Fairey contended the image he created based on the photo constituted a fair use.

Under terms of the settlement, the AP and Fairey “have agreed that neither side surrenders its view of the law.”

Fairey has also agreed to not use unlicensed AP photos in his future work.

Then, this:

The two sides have also agreed to work together going forward with the Hope image and share the rights to make the posters and merchandise bearing the Hope image and to collaborate on a series of images that Fairey will create based on AP photographs.

And the statements. First, AP president Tom Curley: “The Associated Press is pleased to have reached resolution of its lawsuit with Mr. Fairey. AP will continue to celebrate the outstanding work of its award-winning photographers and use revenue from the licensing of those photos to support its mission as the essential provider of news and photography from around the world.  The AP will continue to vigilantly protect its copyrighted photographs against wholesale copying and commercialization where there is no legitimate basis for asserting fair use.”

And Fairey: “I am pleased to have resolved the dispute with the Associated Press. I respect the work of photographers, as well as recognize the need to preserve opportunities for other artists to make fair use of photographic images.  I often collaborate with photographers in my work, and I look forward to working with photos provided by the AP’s talented photographers.”

The AP said its copyright infringement lawsuit against Obey Clothing — the marketer of apparel with the "Hope" image — remains ongoing.