Tuesday, February 10, 2009


The story just won’t die!

As you all know, earlier this week Associated Press accused Fairey of copyright infringement in using Mannie Garcia’s head and shoulders photograph of Barack Obama for his artwork.

Yesterday, Fairey filed a lawsuit asking a federal judge to declare that he is protected from copyright infringement claims in his use of a news photograph as the basis for his image of President Obama, and asserting a different photograph by Mannie Garcia was his reference. The lawsuit states:

"The photograph Fairey had actually used as a visual reference in creating Obama Hope was not the tightly-cropped photograph Gralish identified. Fairey had actually used the Garcia Photograph (Exhibit A) which included both Obama and actor George Clooney in the frame."

The "Exhibit A" photograph submitted in the lawsuit is illustrated above. However, as you can see from the two overlays below, this is clearly an incorrect assertion. Why is Fairey saying this? It can only be that his defense would be stronger if he used a detail of a larger picture rather than an entire picture.

I have been an admirer of Shepard Fairey’s work but this is now trying my patience. I wish he could reciprocate with the generosity of spirit Mannie Garcia showed in his quote in today’s New York Times coverage of the story. From Randy Kennedy's story:

In a telephone interview on Monday, Mr. Garcia said he was unsure how he would proceed now that the matter had landed in court. But he said he was very happy when he found out that his photo was the source of the poster image and that he still is.

“I don’t condone people taking things, just because they can, off the Internet,” Mr. Garcia said. “But in this case I think it’s a very unique situation.”

He added, “If you put all the legal stuff away, I’m so proud of the photograph and that Fairey did what he did artistically with it, and the effect it’s had.”

The full frame Garcia image overlaid on Fairey's HOPE print.

The photograph Fairey is now claiming he used overlaid on HOPE

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