Associated Press has now decided to pour salt on the wounds of the recently settled Shepard Fairey Obama image case by suing retailers Urban Outfitters, Nordstrom and Zumiez, for unspecified damages. They have pinpointed the revenue generators who monetised the iconic image on T shirts and accessories and now want blood. They won the case through excessive litigative bulling pumping millions into the case. In 2009 Fairey sued AP,seeking a declaration that he had not violated their copyright with his image. AP counter-sued, stating that he had done so through his uncredited and uncompensated use of its picture. The lawyers representing AP stated that the photo was used without permission, to create Fairey’s image, violating copyright. AP successfully argued in court that using the image was a wilful and blatant violation of the copyright of the photo. The original photo, taken by Mannie Garcia in 2006 was graphically treated by Fairey and mass marketed before the US presidential elections. This iconic image was central to the image-making of the Democrats’ presidential campaign.I guess the folks at AP are Republicans. A spokesman from AP said that using photos for free devalued the work of journalists. This in other words translates, that AP are not going to put up with any copyright infringement and will go to any length to drag Artists to court for using their material, in works of art. I would love to see the idiots at AP sue the Degas estate for his use of racing photos, in many of his best loved paintings. The fact that they were based on images from newspapers went over the heads of AP and the court, reenforcing my opinion that America is clearly the home of litigation and ambulance chasers working on a two tiered system where money talks in court. There are too many examples of Artists working from photographic images to highlight. It is a well documented practice in painting from the 19th century to the present. I think this is disgraceful behavior on the part of AP who have proven that they are cultural Philistines only interested in money and protecting their ever diminishing control of the market. Fairey has now agreed as part of the settlement, not to use another AP photo in his work without first obtaining a licence.
OOPS sorry…. Photo: By Mannie Garcia © 2006 by permission AP.. not … Iconic image by Shepard Fairey, Collage … Sue Me!!!!