Shepard Fairey Faces up to 6 Months in Jail
Shepard Fairey, the Los Angeles based street artist who branded the name OBEY plead guilty last Friday to criminal contempt after he was charged for both destroying and fabricating documents in a civil suit relating to his infringement upon Associated Press Copyright laws.
Fairey earned a lot of recognition in 2008 when he began promoting the Obama Campaign with his now iconic Obama Hope poster. In 2009 the poster gained national attention after Shepard preimptively sued the Associated Press seeking protection under the “Fair Use Act” after they alleged that the image of Obama in his poster had been taken from an AP owned photograph and began contacting him for compensation.
During the preceedings Fairy admitted that the image he used was in fact taken from an AP photograph, only the photograph that Shepard claimed to have used was of a then Senator Obama next to George Clooney. Shepard claimed that he had altered the work and had used it in an artistic manner to such an extent that his use of the image was protected under “Fair Use”, a doctrine that allows limited use of creative property without permission from the copyright holder. Unfortunately it was discovered that Shepard Fairey had in fact lied about the source of the image. The actual photograph that Shepard used was an entirely different image of Obama, also AP owned that was incedentally taken by the same photographer. Fairey apparently “went to extreme lengths to obtain an unfair and illegal advantage in his civil litigation, creating fake documents and destroying others in an effort to subvert the civil discovery process.” according to a statement that was released last Friday by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.
Although Fairey had settled the copyright infringment claims with the Assosciated press for an undisclosed amount last year, he was ultimately charged with contempt by a federal court after deleted files surfaced that showed evidence of the fact that Shepard had lied about what photo he had referenced in the Obama Hope poster. According to a report released by the Associated Press, the government intends on seeking a term of imprisonment for Fairey, who plead guilty to the charges. Shepard has been released on his own recognisance until sentencing.
Photo: Yosi Sergant