AP Countersues Shepard Fairey Over Obama ‘Hope’ Portrait

The Associated Press is countersuing Shepard Fairey over the graffiti artist–turned–lifestyle marketer–turned Obama portraitist’s February 9 suit. According to an AP press release, the AP’s countersuit, which was filed in Manhattan today, claims that Mr. Fairey created his ubiquitous “Hope” poster “fully aware that the [AP photo] was a copyrighted image, misappropriated The AP’s rights in that image by developing a series of posters and other merchandise.”

In a February interview with CBS News’ Rita Braver, Mr. Fairey said he made no money off of his image, which adorns everything from T-shirts to buttons to the February 2009 cover of Esquire and has been presented at the National Gallery in Washington, D.C.

Mr. Fairey insisted that his work falls under “fair use,” telling Ms. Braver, “I think it’s ‘fair use’ in the way that I’ve interpreted it. … And if you look at pop art over the last 50 years, I think that reinforces that assertion.” In December 2007, artist Mark Vallen looked at Mr. Fairey’s work and noted many instances of appropriation. The AP used several of the same examples in its countersuit.

The AP’s release quotes Associated Press president and CEO Tom Curley as saying, “This lawsuit is about protecting the content that The Associated Press and its journalists produce every day, with creativity, at great cost, and often at great risk… The journalism that AP and other organizations produce is vital to democracy. To continue to provide it, news organizations must protect their intellectual property rights as vigorously as they have historically fought to protect the First Amendment.”

Update, 3:37 PM: A .pdf of the Associated Press’ countersuit.

AP Countersues Shepard Fairey Over Obama ‘Hope’ Portrait