Shephard Fairey vs. Associated Press

One of the most recognizable political posters to have ever been created, the famous HOPE poster, which is of President Barack Obama, was once a part of a major copyright lawsuit. Popular street artist Shephard Fairey created the HOPE poster for then presidential candidate Barack Obama in 2008. Despite not being an official symbol of Obama’s campaign until 2009, the poster rapidly became a symbol for change, in which many people felt a connection to the poster.

Then presidential hopeful Barack Obama was not aware of the alleged copyright infringement, but the Associated Press sued Shephard Fairey for his unlicensed use of a stencil of the photograph taken by AP freelancer Mannie Garcia.

Originally, Fairey claimed that the photograph he used to create the poster was not the one by the Associated Press, but eventually admitted that he had made a mistake, and it was in fact the photograph taken by Garcia.

After the lawsuit had been disputed, the Associated Press walked away with an undisclosed settlement.


In my opinion, this photograph by Garcia was not necessarily one that was well known prior to the HOPE poster. Had it not been for Fairey’s creative depiction of the photograph, it would have never been popular in the first place. This case is just another example of the gray area in copyright infringement lawsuits. Also, why would anyone want to hinder the creative ability of Shephard Fairey and such a renowned poster. That guy is a legend. But that’s just my view.

Franco Fino

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