Thursday, October 22, 2009

AP Raises Hell About Shepard Fairey and Obama HOPE Poster

‘Shepard continues to stand by his statement from last Friday," said Fairey's spokesman, Jay Strell. "He has apologized and taken responsibility for his actions. The more important question is why the AP continues to spend enormous financial resources attacking Shepard and diverting the debate from the central question in this case, which is whether he transformed the ... image into a work of art, which he has.” ’ *

The AP’s argument is specious! Fairey’s poster alters the original photograph significantly no matter which photograph he used. I’m using the poster image as part of this journal entry as a one-time use for intellectual and literary purposes. If the AP has its way, nobody - be they artist, photographer, writer, musician, any person, anywhere - will be able to use a borrowed, not for profit image to illustrate a written argument ever again. As an artist writing an on line journal, I’m horrified, because should the AP win with this diversionary argument, I would find it extremely difficult to use a borrowed image to illustrate any article written about another artist, historical or contemporary. It is absolutely necessary that artists be able to use images by others as aids to their own work – as long as such images are greatly altered by individual creativity - in order to produce the artwork! Should we not be allowed to do so, we will all lose the most vital argumentative reporting resource, and recording devise our culture has to offer.

* Italie, Hillel, “AP Says Artist Made up Story About Poster.”,, from the Associated Press. Viewed Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 9:51 EDT.

*2 This work is copyrighted and unlicensed. It does not fall into one of the blanket acceptable non-free content categories listed at Wikipedia:Non-free content#Images or Wikipedia:Non-free content#Audio clips. However, it is believed that the use of this work in the articles "Shepard Fairey" and "Barack Obama "HOPE" poster":
To illustrate the subject in question
Where no free equivalent is available or could be created that would adequately give the same information
On the English-language Wikipedia, hosted on servers in the United States by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation ([1]),

Fairey, Shepard, Obama “Hope” poster, Wikimedia Foundation, Viewed Wednesday, October 21, 2009, 9:39 EDT at
Original Source: (Barack Obama "Hope" poster originally by Shepard Fairey. == Licensing == {{Non-free use rationale | Description = Obama "Hope" poster. | Source = Campaign. | Article = Barack Obama "HOPE" poster

This is a not for profit article arguing against the AP’s attack of Shepard Fairey for his not for profit use of an AP photographic image that was significantly altered in order to produce the HOPE poster.


Anonymous said...

Hi John
I agree wholeheartedly. Thank you for speaking the truth here. Why doesn't anyone point out in the mainstream media what seems to be so clearly a case of the AP establishing a legal precedent for their planned future revenue stream! This is a line item on their P&L people, and we will all pay the price if they win. Shepard should be respected for keeping up the fight.

Tracy Forman

Dr. John Bittinger Klomp said...

Thank you for your comment Tracy.

In my own work, both the pastels and digital montages, I occasionally find it necessary to use borrowed images from my morgue rather than my own photographs though I much prefer to use the later. There are simply those occasions when my own photographs are inadequate.

In Fairey's situation - I doubt that he had easy access to then candidate Obama. Instead, he drastically altered one of the images that were readily available, complete with art historical reference to Russian Revolutionary Art. The resulting image was a call to change.