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Hear Me Now: My WNYC Commentary on the Shepard Fairey Case

I finally did manage to obtain the audio for my very brief soundbite heard last Friday on New York Public Radio, WNYC, regarding Shepard Fairey‘s guilty plea to criminal charges involving his previously admitted destruction of documents and manufacturing of evidence. He thereby seriously compounded his legal difficulties that arose in connection with the appropriation (for his famous “Hope” poster) of Mannie Garcia‘s photograph of Barack Obama, which had been published by the Associated Press.

My comment, which you can hear below, wasn’t a reaction to the guilty plea on the criminal charges. Those charges were relatively straightforward and uncontroversial, given Fairey’s attempt at a cover-up. He apparently recognized that he would do best to admit guilt, hoping for a lenient sentence.

My comment that WNYC used referred to the civil lawsuit regarding Fairey’s appropriation for artistic purposes, without permission, of a copyrighted image. This is a much more ambiguous case—a balancing of artistic freedom and fair use vs. intellectual property rights. Reasonable people may draw that line differently.

In any event, here’s the announcer’s intro, followed by a soundbar. If you click on the bar’s left arrow, you’ll hear what I said last Friday:

ANNOUNCER: The New York art community is reacting to today’s [Friday's] guilty plea of Shepard Fairey, known for his iconic Barack Obama “HOPE” image.

Fairey pleaded guilty to criminal contempt in a Manhattan court for
fabricating information in a lawsuit he brought against the Associated
Press in 2009. [Fairey and the AP sued each other.] Fairey could spend up to six months in prison when he’s
sentenced in July.

Wall Street Journal contributor and cultural blogger Lee Rosenbaum says this case still serves as an eye-opener for other artists.

ANNOUNCER: The lawsuit sought a court declaration that Fairey did not violate AP’s copyrights when he made the Obama image. The AP countersued, saying the
uncredited, uncompensated use of its picture violated copyright laws. That case was settled last year.

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