Visual artist, Shepard Fairey, created several posters to support the candidacy of President Barack Obama. One of Fairey’s posters now hangs in the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC.
Fairey admits that he used a photograph taken by Mannie Garcia as a visual point of reference to create his posters. The Garcia photograph, taken by Garcia while on assignment to the Associated Press, depicts then Senator Obama at an April 2006 panel discussion at the National Press Club.
After this revelation, the Associated Press contacted Fairey to demand a license fee for the use of the Garcia photograph. The AP said it would contribute any proceeds to a charitable fund that supports AP journalists around the world who suffer personal loss from natural disasters and conflicts. In a preemptive strike, Fairey filed his own lawsuit asking a New York federal court for a declaratory ruling that his posters do not infringe any copyrights held by the Associated Press.
The case raises some interesting issues.