The Obama “Hope” Poster & The New Copyright Controversy

obamaposter-198x300By now, every­one knows the famous Oba­ma “Hope” poster pro­duced by Shep­ard Fairey. Recent­ly, Fairey has acknowl­edged that the poster was orig­i­nal­ly inspired by a pho­to­graph belong­ing to the AP Press, and now the AP is claim­ing that Fairey has infringed on its copy­right and wants “pay­ment for the use of the pho­to and a por­tion of any mon­ey he makes from it.” (see arti­cle in the New York Times). In response, Fairey has filed a pre­emp­tive law­suit, claim­ing that he used the AP pho­to as a mere start­ing point and then trans­formed it into a “stun­ning, abstract­ed and ide­al­ized visu­al image that cre­at­ed pow­er­ful new mean­ing and con­veys a rad­i­cal­ly dif­fer­ent mes­sage.” If you put the two images side by side (see here), it’s pret­ty instant­ly clear that Fairey took an admit­ted­ly well done news pho­to and did some­thing quite trans­for­ma­tive with it, which makes things fair game. That’s obvi­ous to almost any­one (includ­ing hope­ful­ly judges), and it’s a shame to see the AP, which lives by its First Amend­ment rights, look­ing to use the copy­right clause to lim­it free­dom of expres­sion. Bad move guys.

As a quick side note, Fairey is being rep­re­sent­ed in court by The Fair Use Project at Stan­ford Law School’s Cen­ter for Inter­net and Soci­ety (to which I have zero con­nec­tion.)

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Sto­ry Behind the Icon­ic Oba­ma Cam­paign Poster

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Comments (4)
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  • lister says:

    I’m more inter­est­ed (actu­al­ly I’m not, I know the answer :) why the title changed from PROGRESS to HOPE.

    Please, some­one think of the chil­dr.. I mean the ethics in pol­i­tics. :-D

  • joseba says:

    They should donate the pho­to rights to some fair cause. The pho­to already belongs to the his­to­ry so I don’t care about who will make mon­ey with it

  • Dan Colman says:

    Good thought Jose­ba. I am with you on that.

  • C. Corum says:

    The word “Hope,” should have a red line drawn through it, and the work “NOPE“inscribed in let­ters twice as large. Oba­ma has turned out to be a HUGE dis­ap­point­ment. 30 years ago he would have been con­sid­ered a mod­er­ate Repub­li­can.

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