Shepard Fairey's Comment on Recent Updates in the AP Legal Conflict

An update from Shepard Fairey, following this recently-Boinged update on the acclaimed artist's legal battle with the AP:
My lawyers filed my response to The AP’s claims against me on Tuesday (CLICK HERE FOR SHEPARD’S RESPONSE). It includes a dozen examples of AP photographs that consist almost entirely of copyrighted artwork from me and other artists. Today, The AP issued a statement accusing me of “making attacks” on them. I don’t feel the need to respond to that in detail, because my lawyer already has (CLICK HERE FOR LAWYER’S RESPONSE).

As I have stated before I am fighting the AP to protect the rights of all artists but I do want to emphasize one other important point. I’m not accusing the AP of infringing anybody’s rights. I’m saying everyone should have the same broad rights of fair use and free expression, and that includes The AP. I’m not questioning The AP’s legal right to do what it does. But I am saying they have to be consistent. They can’t have it both ways. If AP photographs that do nothing but depict other artists’ work are protected by fair use, then my work has to be, too, because it’s at least as transformative, creative and expressive as The AP photos we identify in my response, if not much more so. If the AP has the right to do what it’s done, then so do I.

UPDATE: Shepard Fairey vs The AP (obeygiant)

Previously: Shepard Fairey Counterfiles in Associated Press Obama Poster Conflict


  1. Good luck with that reasonable, fact-based approach, Mr. Fairey. The Fourth Defence is a chunk of purest win; unclean hands indeed.

  2. You forget one thing, Fairey: artists don’t need money, the AP does. Fair use is for poor people, not corporations who appropriate other people’s work for profit…is like the way the news station has the right to claim copyright infringement on the rebroadcast of their broadcast of the Improv Everywhere April Fool’s joke.

  3. Good going, Mr. Fairey. Just don’t settle on it. Take it to trial and get a precedent that can be applied to other cases.

  4. Perhaps Fairey should try to be as consistent as he wants the AP to be. THEY never made any claim to having any part in the CREATION of the cited works.

    If Fairey had, from the start, included some sort of “…inspired by/based on/from a photograph by…” credit, his ‘consistency’ argument would have a lot more credibility, as would his fair use argument – and he may not have found himself facing the legal problems he does now.

  5. >not corporations who appropriate other people’s work for profit..

    hrm, that sounds like both sides in this conflict.

  6. This article exemplifies the trouble I have with our laws; they don’t mean anything. The AP doesn’t care about copyright infringement. They could care less about “justice.” They just want to use the law as another tool to protect their business. Is this why I pay taxes? To support a system of law that is not based on justice but rather on corporate interest? I think the answer is yes.

  7. An artist who took another person’s work to make his art piece is angry that people noticed/cared.

    Big. Deal.

  8. I understand that newspapers are dying on the vine, but attacking artists can’t be good, er, press.

  9. Eh, I think they can all go to hell. Fairey gets his rocks off suing other artists who parody his own work, all the while parodying everyone else. I am entirely for fair usage, but Fairey is hardly the poster boy. A guy who copies and alters images for a living who flips his shit when someone does the exact same thing to him is clearly an megalomaniac.

  10. I think the problem with Fairey is that he considers himself a fine artist where fair use would apply. He’s clearly a commercial artist, a graphic designer and illustrator. His work is meant for commercial consumption which opens him up to more liability.

  11. I think Fairey’s use of the picture is absolutely allowed under fair use (the transformation from the original is dramatic). However, suing the AP is a non-starter. The press is granted substantially greater fair use rights in reporting news than any other party. The courts hold that the public good of allowing news organizations wider latitude to use images without getting permissions is greater than the public good of protecting copyrights. So Fairey’s comparison is not apt. The courts will hold that an article about the poster (or a museum, or a painting, etc) are allowed to use an image of the subject so that people can see what we are talking about.

  12. People! He is NOT suing the AP! He and his lawyers have gathered this evidence as a RESPONSE to the AP lawsuit. This isn’t even a countersuit. It’s just his defense.

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