AP cries copyright infringement over poster

AP is at it again, trying to make iffy cases about copyright infringement. This time they are claiming that the ubiquitous red-and-blue Obama poster we all know from the 2008 campaign was based on one of their photos and therefore they are entitled to a share of the profits.

Los Angeles street artist Shepard Fairey created the poster “Hope” in early 2008, based on a photo he found online. He donated his creation to the Obama campaign and received no profit from it.

“The Associated Press has determined that the photograph used in the poster is an AP photo and that its use required permission,” the AP’s director of media relations, Paul Colford, said in a statement released Wednesday. Hmm. They couldn’t have figured this out early in 2008, when the poster first became so widely publicized? Or anytime during the year as the poster continued to circulate?

It’s difficult to imagine that AP was unaware of the poster until now. If they were truly concerned about copyright infringement, shouldn’t they have moved in immediately to stop the production and circulation of the poster? Isn’t that the point of copyright laws — to stop or cut short the publication or distribution of the unauthorized work? Not filing suit until a year later, when it has become apparent there might be some money to be made, certainly raises questions about AP’s methods and motives, and perhaps their financial stability.

(AP’s very limited definition of “fair use” of its materials became an issue last year, as well.)

Postscript – Feb. 8. CNN just reported that Shepard Fairey was arrested Friday night in Boston for tagging. It wasn’t enough for him to get sued by AP? Come on, Mr. Fairey, you have a lot of talent but you are not above the law. More here.

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