Just when you thought you’d heard enough about Shepherd Fairey and the AP

18 02 2009


Today, however, I want to suggest (somewhat uncharacteristically) that the fair use handle may not be the best one (or, at least, not the only one), by which to pick up the by now widely-publicized controversy between the street artist turned culture hero Shepherd Fairey and the Associated Press. By now, you know the outline of the dispute: AP wrote Fairey to assert that his iconic image of Barack Obama infringed its copyright in a photo taken by a freelancer it had employed. Not waiting to be sued, Fairey fired back (with help from the estimable Fair Use Project at Stanford) seeking judicial declaration that the use was legal. In press accounts, one element of that lawsuit got most stress: the claim that whatever use Fairey had made of the image in question should be considered “fair.”

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