Issues of Copyright Infringement and Shepard Fairey’s Obama Poster

A few days ago, Cameron posted an interesting quote and poster about stealing inspiration from anywhere you can find it.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out for Shepard Fairey, the street artist whose fantastic Russian constructivist inspired poster design became the iconic symbol of Obam’s historic 2008 candidacy for president. Fairey admits that he found the source image on a Google image search, but never revealed or received permission to use the image. It looks like the source image has been found , and it is a copyrighted Associated Press photo taken by Mannie Garcia where Obama was having lunch with actor George Clooney.

Who knows how this will play out, perhaps the AP will grant him retroactive permissions, or there may be copyright infringement issues and money at stake (especially considering how Fairey may have profited considerably off this image).

At first this might not seem like a big deal, everyone’s done a Google images search for some inspiration. It is however, the responsibility of the artist to credit and obtain permission when the source is identifiable and potential legal issues may ensue.

Don’t stop looking for inspiration, but don ‘t steal, it’s not hard to ask permission and even easier to give credit where credit is due.

Here’s a few links for reference:

I came across this set of articles through a twitter post by Patrick King

Update: I missed this the first timeā€”the photographer’s web site now states that he was contacted by the Fairey’s gallery a few days ago (Jan 21, 2009) who acknowledged that the photo was the basis for the poster design.

posted by John Dilworth on Friday, Jan 23, 2009
tagged with copyright, stealing, obama, obey