The Associated Press vs. Fairey

During the 2008 Obama Campaign there was a copyright infringement case of The Associated Press vs. Fairey. Fairey created the HOPE poster during Obama’s campaign and it soon caught fire and was all over the place. Shephard Fairey worked as a street artist and created this symbol without the campaign but they eventually gave him their approval seeing as so many people took notice to it so quickly (Ellison). There is a picture taken by a freelancer named Mannie Garcia who said that the design of the hope poster was created from the photo that he had taken. Initiating the case against Fairey for compensation for his work that Fairey had used. This case was settled privately in January 2011. I think Shephard Fairey had a great defense by “claiming his work didn’t reduce the value of the original photograph” (Ellison).


 I strongly agree with that defense and believe that if anything it made the photo more valuable than before. Obviously Mannie Garcia did not care about what people thought of the photo or anything like that, he solely wanted money out of the situation. Which he eventually gained, to me this is not fair that just basing a poster off a photograph gives the photographer full right to part of the money made. Before nobody knew about the photo and the creative work done by Fairey was done by only him. There is nothing creative about the photo, the poster on the other hand is clever and obviously people liked it because of how fast it caught on; the fame of the photo would never have reached the same level of popularity as the poster. It’s not a damaging infringement by any means if anything it would add value to her photo. The lesson that should be learned here is to make sure everyone knows where the photo came from originally and also maybe personally get in contact with the photographer and ask their permission for using their work.


Lessig would probably disagree with my claim that the photographer does not have to be compensated. In the first chapter of his, The Future of Ideas, he goes on to say that ““if any piece of artwork is recog- nizable by anybody . . . then you have to clear the rights of that and pay” to use the work. “[A]lmost every piece of artwork, any piece of furniture, or sculpture, has to be cleared before you can use it.”1” (Lessig). He is claiming that anything that someone else can recognize must be paid for, so according to him since Mannie Garcia recognized his on photo Shephard Fairey must compensate him for its use.




2 thoughts on “The Associated Press vs. Fairey

  1. Robert,

    This response identifies a really interesting case of the infringement of intellectual property. I like that you dig a bit into the details of the case and express a strong opinion. However, it needs a bit of work before it’s ready to be graded “Satisfactory.”

    The big thing this response is missing is that you don’t cite Milton or Kant. Think about it this way: What are the rules that govern intellectual property in this case? How did those rules affect the outcome? Do you think those rules are consistent with the ideas of fair use that Lessig, Milton, and Kant describe?

    Also: you include links at the bottom of the page, but you don’t explain what parts of your essay come from where. You need to cite your sources with links in the text (not just at the bottom).

    Bottom line: good work so far, but you need to go back to the course readings and really think about how the ideas of “freedom” expressed by these various writers relate to your example.

    You have until Sept 31 to complete revisions, but I strongly suggest you complete your revisions well in advance of that date.


    PS: And don’t forget that you still haven’t completed the first week’s assignment! Time’s wasting!

    • I by accident posted my first assignment as a comment below where the rubric for the assignment is, I hope that this isn’t an issue. Also group one requires we cite both Locke and Strasburger, but I couldn’t find the Strasburger reading. Please let me know where to find this if you get a chance. Thanks Rob Hutchis

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