“Most well known for his ‘Obey Giant’ street posters, Shepard Fairey has carefully nurtured a reputation as a heroic guerilla street artist waging a one man campaign against the corporate powers-that-be. Infantile posturing aside, Fairey’s art is problematic for another, more troubling reason – that of plagiarism.”
Obey Plagiarist Shepard Fairey, A critique by artist Mark Vallen
Written on the occasion of Fairey’s Los Angeles solo exhibition, Dec., 2007.
My respect and admiration for Mark Vallen grows every time he posts. And, yes, even things in the public domain have to be credited properly. It’s only right.
“Fairey himself admitted that he didn’t use The Associated Press photo of Obama seated next to actor George Clooney he originally said his work was based on — which he claimed would have been covered under “fair use,” the legal claim that copyrighted work can be used without having to pay for it.
“Instead he used a picture the news organization has claimed was his source — a solo picture of the future president seemingly closer to the iconic red, white and blue image of Obama, underlined with the caption ‘HOPE.’ Fairey said that he tried to cover up his error by submitting false images and deleting others.
“The distinction is critical because fair use can sometimes be determined by how much of an original image or work was altered in the creation of a new work. If Fairey didn’t need to significantly alter the image he used — in this case the solo shot of Obama — then his claim could have been undermined. Fair use cases also may consider the market value of the copyrighted material and the intended use of the newly created work.
“‘Shepard Fairey has now been forced to admit that he sued the AP under false pretenses by lying about which AP photograph he used,” said AP vice president and general counsel Srinandan R. Kasi. “Mr. Fairey has also now admitted to the AP that he fabricated and attempted to destroy other evidence in an effort to bolster his fair use case and cover up his previous lies and omissions.'”
“The “HOPE” image has appeared on countless posters, stickers and buttons. It has appeared in several books and in numerous museums, including a mixed-media stenciled collage version added to the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery in Washington.”
Artist admits using key AP photo for ‘HOPE’ poster, AP, October 17, 2009 (pdf here because Yahoo doesn’t keep things long. (Sorry AP, you know where to find me for the C&D letter)
I think Shep needs to grow up. HE sued the AP for a picture he used without permission? This guy wouldn’t last five minutes in the music industry.
I rather hope this won’t be the symbol of the Obama administration: taking other peoples ideas and disguising them badly as your own and then getting mad when you get called on the carpet for it. I like Obama; I don’t like Shepard Fairey.