“Hope” Leads to Despair… and a Fair Use Dispute

LOS ANGELES -- First, there was the photograph.

Then came an illustration, posters, "Hope," and a Fair Use dispute.

Now. the guy who inadvertently started it all, Associated Press photographer Mannie Garcia, is talking about a situation that appears hopelessly complicated.

Garcia told National Public Radio in an interview broadcast Thursday that he didn't think much of the photo in question when he first snapped it in April 2006. He said it was just one of many he took of then-Sen. Barack Obama at a National Press Club event.

The photo of Obama, who was seated next to actor George Clooney and in front of an American flag during a discussion regarding Darfur, became the model for artist Shepherd Fairey's "Hope" poster.

"Last year, when the poster came out, I noticed it, and I noticed there was something about it," Garcia told NPR. "But I didn't know it was (my photo).

"Initially, when I found out I was disappointed that someone was able to go onto the Internet and take something that doesn't belong to them and use it. That part of this whole story is crucial."

In a January interview with NPR, Fairey told his side of the story. That was before he knew that Garcia shot the source photo.

"I actually don't know who the photographer is," Fairey told NPR in January. "It was an Associated Press photo that I got off of Google. They've never approached me. My illustration did stylize and idealize from the photo."

After the AP threatened to sue Fairey over copyright violation, Fairey's attorneys filed a pre-emptive lawsuit. They claim Fairey is protected under Fair Use provisions.

Click here to listen to NPR's interviews with Fairey, Garcia and a law professor who tries to make sense of it all.


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