Shepard Fairey sues AP over Obama art

Fairey beats AP to the punch in a case of copyright infringement.

By Ben Rossi

Andre wants you to obey copyright law

THE NY times reported today that street artist Shepard Fairey, creator of the near-iconic red and blue image of Obama that’s been plastered on mailboxes, stuck in windows and hung on streetlights in the Loop, is preemptively suing the Associated Press after AP announced that it owns the photograph on which Fairey’s “Hope” portrait is based. Fairey is asking a federal judge to declare him immune from copyright infringement claims.

Further complicating the issue, the photo was taken by a freelance photographer named Mannie Garcia. Now he’s claiming a copyright for the photo against the Associated Press.

Fairey’s no stranger to legal trouble. Just last Friday, he was arrested outside Boston’s Institute for Contemporary Art for property defacement.

One of Fairey’s portraits of Obama now resides in the National Portrait Gallery’s collection. Prior to the Obama piece, he was best known for his image of a menacing Andre the Giant along with the word “Obey.”

Characteristically, the Obama campaign shied away from officially adopting Fairey’s image because of copyright concerns. The City of Chicago had no such reservations.

Interestingly enough, the issue of copyright infringement came up in Fairey’s interview on the Colbert Report.