Shepard Fairey, the Los Angeles designer who created the famous poster of then-Senator Barack Obama next to the word “hope,” using an Associated Press photo as a base, was sentenced in a New York court earlier today as a result of AP’s litigation against him. He will face two years of probation and a $25,000 fine. Mr. Fairey had admitted that he tampered with evidence in his own legal efforts against the AP.
“In 2009, Fairey initiated litigation against the AP in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York seeking a declaration that the Obama works did not infringe the AP’s copyrights, and that his use of an AP photograph was protected by the “fair use” doctrine of copyright law,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara office explained in a press release. “In Fairey’s complaint, he alleged that he had used an AP photograph of then- Senator Obama and actor George Clooney taken at an April 2006 National Press Club event as a visual reference. This claim was untrue. In fact, he had used another image from the same event – a tightly cropped image of then-Senator Obama gazing up, which was also an AP photograph.”
“In order to cover up the fact that the assertion in his complaint was untrue, Fairey created multiple false and fraudulent documents that attempted to show he had used the photograph of then-Senator Obama with George Clooney in it as his reference,” the statement continued. “Fairey also attempted to delete multiple electronically stored documents demonstrating that he had, in fact, used the tightly cropped image of then-Senator Obama as the reference. The false and fraudulent documents were produced to the AP during discovery, and the documents that Fairey attempted to delete were not initially produced to the AP.”
Update: The Associated Press has passed along a statement on the sentencing from their CEO Gary Pruitt:
“After spending a great amount of time, energy and legal effort, all of us at The Associated Press are glad this matter is finally behind us. We hope this case will serve as a clear reminder to all of the importance of fair compensation for those who gather and produce original news content.”
View the press release below: