Saturday, February 7, 2009

Who Owns The Image?

THE POSTER OF NOW President Barack Obama (above, right) that was widely circulated during the campaign was based on an image created by an Associated Press photographer (above, left).

Now the Associated Press wants credit and compensation for the image. The artist, apparently, has sold thousands of posters and stickers and parlayed the poster into fame. He now has a gallery show in Boston, and a version of the image has been added to the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery in Washington.

Should the Associated Press be compensated for their photojournalism? Or is this art, and therefore fair game?

(by the way, the artist is also the guy who created the "OBEY" stickers and posters that hang around the world).

12 comments:

Levi Stewart said...

According to the Copyright Act of 1976 the artist technically did infringe upon AP's rights, because he took their original image without permission, altered it and redistributed it for profit.

However, because the Act does not define it's Fair use policy very well, the artist may have a shot at defending himself by saying something such as before he used the image it was merely a journalistic photo and after he altered it he helped to bring the image of our current president into the public sphere and that he was doing the public good by creating his version of the image.

I have to say it is a pretty tough decision to say whether or not the AP should be compensated because despite the fact that the artist probably made a good bit of money, he at least changed the image and put his own spin on it, which was enough to make the image extremely popular and was to promote our current president.

I guess that the AP should receive some money, due to the fact that their image is clearly a large part of his, it's not as if he took only a small portion, he pretty much just altered the color and added text. I don't think they should receive a ridiculous amount though.

John Birk said...

I disagree with your thoughts Levi. Shepard Fairey should get nailed for this. Let me be clear - Shepard infringed upon the rights of the copyright holder. 'Fair use' is an affirmative defense which can overcome a copyright infringement claim, not a way of saying that he didn't infringe. In other words, by claiming 'fair use' one is acknowledging that they took someone elses work but think they should not be considered liable for infringement.

As for whether or not the Associated Press should be compensated for the photo, the answer is no. Mannie Garcia, the photographer who shot the image should receive compensation. Here's why: Garcia was not a freelancer or a staffer for the AP at the time the image was made. All copyrights by freelancers and staffers are property of the AP. Garcia, however, was a temporary hire and furthermore did not sign an AP contract which would sign his rights over to the AP. The image was used for commercial purposes selling hundreds of thousands or posters and a litany of other memorabilia for which Garcia is entitled a percentage of.

Lastly, the use of an AP image in a commercial environment by the Obama campaign could be clearly misrepresented as an official endorsement of the candidate. The AP should remain neutral throughout the campaign. To give those an idea who might disagree with this, remember the stir that McCain/Palin campaign caused for using the song Barracuda by Heart at a campaign rally. Heart protested for not seeking permission because they did not support the campaign. This is the same situation. Obama's campaign should have sought permission from the AP in order to use this image.

In conclusion, this is not art. This is theft of a copyrighted image and Fairey should be held responsible for that infringement.

Ashley said...

I think that AP is completely wrong for wanting credit and compensation for the photo turned poster. It's a simulation of the the photo, not the actual photo. The artist simply took the photo as inspiration to make an inspiring peace of art. Andy Warhol did it with photos of celebrities, such as Marilyn Monroe (as seen here: http://www.webexhibits.org/colorart/marilyns.html) What's the difference?

Brett Snell said...

I don't believe that the Associated Press should be looking for compensation. Had the actual picture been used all over and not this artists rendition that might be different. But that is not the case. This seems similar to the guy that took the picture of the plane that crashed in New York. He received compensation because his actual picture was used, not a changed rendition. The artist of the HOPE posters simply used the photo as inspiration.

~Brett Snell

Megan Minner said...

Personally, I think the Associated Press just wanted some of his cash. The poster was extremely significant in the campaign and will become historical. The artist didn't intentionally steal the photo to make money for himself, it is a form of art that he created and therefore shall be credited for. Once again, everything is about the money.

Anonymous said...

http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/215976/january-15-2009/shepard-fairey

In this interview Shepard Fairey says he has not been getting paid for this poster- his compensation was the election of Obama. If he just used an image he found on the internet, changed it, and put it back on the internet- why should he have to pay? I think the Associated Press is only paying attention to this poster because it became famous.

- Jess Dunford

Anonymous said...

My high school does this as an art assignment. They take an image, turn it into a projection, and then project and trace it onto a canvas. However you do not trace all the detail, just turn it into a stencil almost, sort of paint by numbers then you assign colors to various areas and paint them. This is the exact same thing as that assignment and in all the years my school has been doing we never once had an issue of copyright despite the pictures being entered in various art shows. I think somewhere, some paper pusher woulda picked up on the legality if it were an issue.

Alexander Narita said...

I agree with Minner, AP just wants credit now because Obama won the election and now that the poster is known all over the world they believe that they can profit off of it just like the artist

Joshua Rultenberg said...

this is art but its not an original piece. This idea was taken from the picture presented by the Associated Press. They should therefore be compensated.

Cait Berry said...

I think AP deserves recognition but no compensation for the artist's work. Thousands of pictures of Obama were taken and posted worldwide during his campaign. There is nothing particulary unique about this image that distinguishes it. The artist just took an image of a public figure and used it as a blueprint for a work of art. Because AP did take the original picture they should be recognized for it, but they deserve no monetary winnings from the artist.

Stephanie Lauren Klock said...

They AP should not be getting credit for this picture because the artist altered it and changed it which an artist is free to do. The poster is art. All art is based on something are all artists going to be sued for compensation?

Jasmine Stanley said...

I believe that AP shouldn't be getting compensated. Yes, the painting was based on a photograph that belonged to AP but its not the actual photo. It is the artist recreation with colors, shades and words of inspiration at the bottom. Some artist base their works off of photos or images that they may not have created.