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AP alleges copyright infringement of Obama photo

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  1. Content Restrictions
Artist Shepard Fairey has admitted that his iconic red, white and blue "Hope" image of President Obama was based on a…

Artist Shepard Fairey has admitted that his iconic red, white and blue "Hope" image of President Obama was based on a photograph taken by a photojournalist on assignment for The Associated Press. Now, The AP is claiming the copyright and demanding credit and compensation from Fairey, according to the news wire’s report.

Fairey needed permission to use the photo, The AP’s director of media relations, Paul Colford, said.  The picture was taken in 2006 by Mannie Garcia.

But Fairey, a Los Angeles-based street artist, disagrees with The AP. His attorney says his work is protected by the "fair use" doctrine of copyright law, which provides that someone can, under certain conditions, have limited use of copyrighted material without permission from the copyright holder.

Attorneys for Fairey and The AP are currently "in discussions" about the issue, the wire service said.

"What makes me uneasy is that it kind of suggests that anybody’s photograph is fair game, even if it uses the entire image, and it remains recognizable, and it’s not just used in a collage," Columbia University law professor Jane Ginsburg told The AP.  "I think that’s pretty radical." 

Robin Gross, an attorney with civil liberties organization IP Justice, told the wire service she thinks Fairey was within his rights to base his painting on the photo because he meant for the work to have a political, rather than a commercial, use.