By JP Benitez, Attorney at Law
Last time on Fairey vs. the Associated Press: Shepard Fairey, an artist, went to court to declare his use of a news photograph of Obama at a press conference in making his now-infamous "Hope" poster was a fair use under the Copyright laws of the United States. The Associated Press (the owner of the copyright in the photo) counterclaimed that Fairey’s use constituted an infringement of their rights in the photo.
The LA Times culture blog links to a story covering more Shepard Fairey and his Obama poster legal antics. This time, Mr. Fairey pointed the finger back at the Associated Press suggesting that the AP’s use of his "Hope" poster image without obtaining his permission was inappropriate. One of Fairey’s affirmative defenses to the AP’s counterclaim (filed 4/14/09, page 29) notes:
"The doctrine of unclean hands and basic principles of equity prohibit The AP from contending that Counterclaim Defendants’ Obama Works infringe The AP’s copyrights when The AP itself exploits the copyrighted work of Fairey and other artists without permission and in a manner that is far less transformative than the Obama Works …"