Hope Photographer Mannie Garcia has withdrawn his claim of copyright ownership to the photograph behind the famous Barack Obama "Hope" poster image.

The image is at the center of a lawsuit between Associated Press and and artist Shepard Fairey, who used the photograph without permission to create the campaign poster. AP sued Fairey for copyright infringement in 2009, but Garcia joined the lawsuit soon afterward claiming that he–and not AP–was the rightful owner of the image.

Garcia shot the image of then-Senator Barack Obama at the National Press Club in 2006.

Garcia alleged that because he was a freelance photographer on assignment for AP when he shot the image, and not an employee, he owned copyrights to the image. He also accused AP of acting in bad faith for registering the copyright to the image under its own name.

The AP has maintained all along that Garcia was an AP employee when he shot the image, making AP the rightful owner of the image. (Under US Copyright law, employers own the copyrights to works created by their employees.)

"The AP is pleased that Mr. Garcia voluntarily withdrew [his claim] without any payment or consideration of any kind — this was not a settlement," the AP said when announcing Garcia's withdrawal.

One of Garcia's attorneys, Warren Zinn of Miami, says Garcia decided to drop his claim because "he didn't want to be consumed by it anymore."

When pressed about whether Garcia withdrew for lack of money to pursue his claim or because of doubts that he would win, Zinn said, "It wasn't anything like that. It was taking a toll, so he said, 'Forget it, I'm done, they can have the image. I just want to get back to my life.'"

Garcia was not immediately available for comment.

Garcia's withdrawal leaves AP's infringement claim against Fairey intact. A trial date has been set for March 21, 2011.

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