The plot thickens.

After the Associated Press concluded that Shepard Fairey had used one of its photographs as the basis for his nationally recognized Obama Hope portrait, and then pressured the Charleston native for payment, Fairey is fighting back. Now he’s suing the AP in federal court for protection against infringement of his right to use the images under the law’s fair use clause.

Amid this back and forth, which I read about in today’s Times, there is the niggling question of who really owns the images — the AP or the freelancer who took the photograph? Under the terms of a contract with the AP, photographer Mannie Garcia believes he in fact owns the image. Now that the issue is in federal court, however, Garcia is unsure of what to do.

At any rate, he’s proud of this work:

Further complicating the dispute, Mr. Garcia contends that he, not The Associated Press, owns the copyright for the photo, according to his contract with the The A.P. at the time. In a telephone interview on Monday, Mr. Garcia said he was unsure how he would proceed now that the matter had landed in court. But he said he was very happy when he found out that his photo was the source of the poster image and that he still is.

“I don’t condone people taking things, just because they can, off the Internet,” Mr. Garcia said. “But in this case I think it’s a very unique situation.”

He added, “If you put all the legal stuff away, I’m so proud of the photograph and that Fairey did what he did artistically with it, and the effect it’s had.”

Fairey is the subject of a retrospective at Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art. And Obama Hope was just acquired by the National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC.

Full story . . .

(Above image courtesy of the Times) —John Stoehr

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