Saturday, October 17, 2009

Ooops, Obama's Fairey admits to cover-up, lying about source of HOPE Image

The iconic HOPE image of Obama in Soviet style colors and icongrapy by Christopher Fairey, a centerpiece of last year's Obama presidential campaign propaganda is the center of a lawsuit, initiated by Fairey where he claimed he adapted the image from a photo and it constituted fair use. He was then countersued by AP, the owners of the photo who claimed he used a different photo that had far less adaptation for his icon.

Unsurprisingly, it turns out AP was right and Fairey deliberately lied about it.

Artist admits using key AP photo for 'HOPE' poster You can see the photo actually used at the link and note the complete similarity save the coloration.
"Shepard Fairey has now been forced to admit that he sued the AP under false pretenses by lying about which AP photograph he used," said AP vice president and general counsel Srinandan R. Kasi. "Mr. Fairey has also now admitted to the AP that he fabricated and attempted to destroy other evidence in an effort to bolster his fair use case and cover up his previous lies and omissions."

. . .
Fairey, 39, had claimed he based his "HOPE" drawing on a photo of then-Sen. Obama seated next to Clooney. The photo was taken in April 2006 by Mannie Garcia, on assignment for the AP, at the National Press Club in Washington.

Fairey now says he started with a solo photograph of Obama — taken at the same event, by the same photographer. The AP has long maintained that Fairey used the solo shot for the poster.

Fairey sued the not-for-profit news cooperative in February, arguing that he didn't violate copyright law because he dramatically changed the image. The AP countersued in March, saying the uncredited, uncompensated use of an AP photo violated copyright laws and signaled a threat to journalism.

Fairey, a Los Angeles-based street artist with a long, often proud history of breaking rules, said in a statement Friday that he was wrong about which photo he used and that he tried to hide his error.

"In an attempt to conceal my mistake, I submitted false images and deleted other images," said Fairey. "I sincerely apologize for my lapse in judgment, and I take full responsibility for my actions, which were mine alone."

He said he was taking steps to correct the information and regretted that he didn't come forward sooner.

In addition to indicating they plan to withdraw from the case, attorneys for Fairey filed papers Friday in federal court in Manhattan stating that he misled them. They also amended the original court documents, reflecting that Fairey used a different picture.
Fairey's lawyers have done the proper and ethical thing by withdrawing from the case and alerting the court to the misrepresentation in the pleadings. Amazingly enough he apparently intends to continue with the suit even after admitting lying about the photo used and spoliation of evidence in an effort to cover it up.

Inevitably, cover ups just get you in more trouble. I always tell my clients that you don't lie about the facts, you deal with them. Lying doesn't work. Lying to the court never sits well with the judge and its something you should never, ever do. I'd expect Fairey's credibility is pretty much shot at this point which will, and certainly should harm his case.

Of course, Fairey made some good money off of AP's photo:
Fairey also used the AP photograph for an image designed specially for the Obama inaugural committee, which charged anywhere from $100 for a poster to $500 for a poster signed by the artist. It is unclear how much, in total, Fairey may have earned from the design.

Fairey has said that he first designed the image in early 2008, after he was encouraged by the Obama campaign to come up with some kind of artwork.
I'd expect AP will pursue Fairey to disgorge any profits he made from the image.

Yet another prominent Obama supporter in hot water.

It's certainly well past time to stop believing in the Obama Fairey.

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