Artist Shepard Fairey was sentenced to 300 hours of community service and fined $25,000 today in a federal courtroom in Manhattan today for destroying documents, falsifying evidence “and other misconduct” in his civil litigation two years ago against the Associated Press (AP). He had faced a maximum of six months in jail.

Fairey pled guilty to the criminal charge last February. The US District Attorney in Manhattan announced Fairey’s plea shortly after he settled his civil case with the AP over his unauthorized use of an AP image to create the “Hope” poster that became an icon of Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign for President.

“Shepard Fairey went to extreme lengths to obtain an unfair and illegal advantagein his civil litigation [against AP], creating fake documents and destroying others in an effort to subvert the civil discovery process,” US Attorney Preet Bharara said in announcing Fairey’s guilty plea.

AP claimed copyright infringement against Fairy in 2009 for unauthorized use of the image of Obama to create the Hope poster.

Fairey tried to pre-empt the claim by asking a federal court judge to declare that the Hope poster amounted to a fair use of the AP photograph. In seeking that declaration, Fairey gave “factually untrue” information about the image he had used, the US District Attorney said. Specifically, Fairey claimed that he had used part of one AP image to make the poster, when in fact had used a substantial portion of a different AP image.

Fairey admitted the discrepancy in 2010, saying he had made a mistake about which image he had used. He said he then tried to cover up the mistake. (His fair use defense was arguably stronger with the image he originally claimed to have used.)

The US Attorney began a criminal investigation after Fairey’s admission, and concluded that he had created “multiple false and fraudulent documents” which he presented to AP during the discover process in the civil litigation.

The US Attorney also said Fairey tried to get one of his employees to mislead investigators.

Prior to pleading guilty to the criminal charges, Fairey had settled his civil litigation with AP on mostly undisclosed terms (the two sides did agree to share proceeds from licensing of the Hope poster image, however).


COMMENTS

MORE POSTS

Photographer Zwelethu Mthethwa Found Guilty of Murder

Posted by on Thursday March 16, 2017 | Copyright/Legal

A court in South Africa has convicted photographer Zwelethu Mthethwa of the 2013 murder of Nokuphila Kumalo, 23, a sex worker, in a suburb of Cape Town, several South African newspapers have reported. Bail for Mthethwa, a graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology who is represented by Jack Shainman Gallery, was revoked while he... More

Jeff Koons Found Liable for Copyright Infringement. Again.

Posted by on Friday March 10, 2017 | Copyright/Legal

A French court has ordered appropriation artist Jeff Koons and contemporary art museum Centre Pompidou to pay €40,000 (about $46,000 US) for infringing the copyright of a photograph by the late French photographer Jean-François Bauret. The court decision was reported by Radio France Internationale (RFI). Bauret’s family sued Koons over a 1988 sculpture (shown at... More

Police Intimidation Watch: Mannie Garcia Gets $45,000 in Settlement with Maryland Police

Posted by on Thursday March 9, 2017 | Copyright/Legal

Photographer Mannie Garcia has won $45,000 to settle a claim against police in Montgomery County, Maryland for violation of his First Amendment rights in 2011. The claim stemmed from Garcia’s wrongful arrest for video recording and photographing the arrest of two other men outside a restaurant in Wheaton, Maryland. The settlement came just days before... More