Copyright Law

Copyright Dispute over AP Photo in Obama Poster Is Resolved with Deal to Collaborate


The artist who used an Associated Press photo of Barack Obama to create the hot-selling “Hope” poster will share rights to the image with the wire service.

Artist Shepard Fairey and AP announced today an agreement in principle to settle their litigation. The deal provides that Fairey and AP will share rights to make posters and merchandise with the Hope image, according to a press release and an AP story. Fairey will also collaborate with AP on a new series of images that he will create based on wire service photos.

Fairey was first to file suit in the dispute. He sought a declaratory judgment that his use of the image was protected by the fair-use doctrine; AP countered that Fairey was not entitled to the image and he should have obtained a license. According to a press release, “neither side surrenders its view of the law” in the settlement.

The agreement has “additional financial terms” that will remain confidential. Fairey also agreed that he won’t use any more AP images without obtaining a license.

AP’s copyright dispute with a clothing company that uses the Hope image remains unresolved.

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