The Associated Press and Shepard Fairey reached a settlement earlier this year, ending a two-year dispute as to whether the artist violated copyright terms in using a 2006 photo by a photographer from the news collective of Barack Obama as inspiration for the iconic presidential campaign “Hope” poster. The New York Times reported that both parties agreed that “neither side surrendered its view of the law” and agreed on undisclosed financial terms. But it seems Fairey’s argument that his use of the photo was covered by a fair-use defense has not swayed the AP from further litigation, now with others who employ the imagery in other fashions.
Fairey created his poster to back Obama in 2008, and, in 2009, he preemptively sued the national news collective after it accused him of copyright infringement. AP released a timeline of key events pertinent to the suit, buttressing their argument. In settling the dispute, Fairey has agreed not to use another AP photo without permission. He and the AP also will share rights to the Hope image.
But fueling the litigious saga, the AP discussed fresh federal complaints it launched Wednesday against three clothing retailers: Urban Outfitters, Nordstrom and Zumiez. The AP asserts the retailers infringed its copyrights with clothing emblazoned with the Hope image. Obey Clothing, embroiled in a separate copyright suit by the AP since 2009, supplied the retailers with the disputed clothes and a civil trial between Obey and the AP is expected to launch by month’s end, the news organization says.
The AP has defended its legal actions, saying that protecting its copyrights is vital to its business. “When a commercial entity such as these retailers, or the company that sold the shirts to them, gets something for nothing by using an AP photo without credit or compensation, it undermines the AP’s ability to cover the news and devalues the work that our journalists do, often in dangerous locations where they may literally risk life and limb to cover a story,” Paul Colford of the AP said.