When “Hope” Becomes “Nope” – Copyright Infringement

Despite its appearance, this is not a political article, although with enough prompting, I would be glad to write one. ;) In a bizarre twist of fate, Shepard Fairey, the creator of the iconic “Hope” poster of the then-Senator Obama, was sentenced to 2 years of probation for copyright infringement and tampering with evidence, required to provide 300 hours of community service, and fined $25,000. As part of the civil case settled last year, Fairey was also required to pay the AP news service $1.6 million and 50% of future “Hope” poster profits. During the proceedings, investigators discovered that Fairey had grossly under-represented his profits on sales of “Hope” related items. It seems that “Hope” was based on a completely false premise – that Fairey had NOT infringed upon the rights of others. Another reminder that some things are not what they appear to be…

AP believed that Fairey had used a photo, taken by an AP photographer, Mannie Garcia, in 2006, as the foundation for the famous “Hope” poster. AP sued Fairey for copyright infringement. And with an apparent sense of righteous indignation, Fairey countersued. Unfortunately for Fairey, the ensuing investigation showed that he had lied regarding which image he relied on to create the “Hope” poster, and destroyed evidence related to the case. Fairey admitted his mistakes in court and issued a statement on his website today.

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