Obama Hope Poster Lawsuit Settlement a Good Deal for Both Sides, Says Kernochan Center Director

Obama "Hope" Poster Lawsuit Settlement a Good Deal for Both Sides, Says Kernochan Center Director


Public Affairs, 212-854-2650
New York, Jan. 11, 2011--The copyright infringement lawsuit between the Associated Press and artist Shepard Fairey over his famous “Hope” poster depicting Barack Obama has been settled, which a Columbia Law School intellectual property expert said Wednesday was the right move for both sides.
“From the AP's perspective, whether or not Fairey's use was a fair use was a close question, and it couldn't be certain of prevailing,” said June Besek, executive director of the Kernochan Center for Law, Media and the Arts.  “From Fairey's perspective, his misrepresentations concerning the source material were problematic on a number of levels, and could have affected the ultimate outcome.”
At issue was a poster Fairey made of a then-Sen. Obama taken from a 2006 photograph shot by an AP freelancer. The AP claimed the poster violated its copyright. Fairey countered his work was protected by fair-use laws, and preemptively sued the wire service in 2009 after it demanded compensation. A trial had been slated to begin in New York in March.
According to published reports, Fairey has agreed not to use any AP photos in his work with first obtaining a license. Both sides will also share rights to make merchandise bearing the “Hope” image. Other financial terms were kept confidential.
 “The settlement seems like a positive development for all concerned, including the court, which will not have to address the principal legal claims in a case complicated with significant collateral issues,” Besek said.
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