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Obey the Law
October 17, 2009 10:56 AM   Subscribe

Anthony Falzone and the Fair Use Project have dropped Shepard Fairey's case after he admitted he lied and submitted false evidence in his suit against the Associated Press. (Previously).
posted by CheeseDigestsAll (50 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
The AP's article on the development.
posted by ericb at 11:01 AM on October 17, 2009


"AP has now put up court documents in the case with the latest admissions." *
posted by ericb at 11:03 AM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Jerk acts like a jerk? Color me shocked.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 11:04 AM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I HOPE he loses!

HEY-OH!!
posted by billysumday at 11:11 AM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Does this mean my signed "Obey" print went up in value, or down?
posted by infinitewindow at 11:12 AM on October 17, 2009


On the one hand, it's a great image and i'm glad he made it, but on the other hand, I wish he would just fucking pay people that he borrows from instead of just being a dick about it. It's one thing to appropriate stuff when you're just tagging walls it's another thing when you're a multi-millionaire CEO of a design firm.
posted by empath at 11:13 AM on October 17, 2009 [16 favorites]


Ironically, I just sat down to take a break from framing one of those campaign posters for a friend. (I screwed up the mounting tape, so I'm waiting for the mat to dry after removing it.)
This kind of taints the Schadenfreude I relish when a Republican election campaign gets busted for using a rock song without permission.
posted by hydrophonic at 11:14 AM on October 17, 2009


Jagoff acts like a jagoff? Color me very surprised.
posted by From Bklyn at 11:16 AM on October 17, 2009


I've said it before and I'll say it again: Shepard Fairey is an asshole.
posted by farishta at 11:32 AM on October 17, 2009


Why do I ever read news story comments? Christ, what assholes.
posted by pinky at 11:45 AM on October 17, 2009


If I've said it twice I've said it at least a dozen time: Shepard Fairey is an anus.
posted by From Bklyn at 11:50 AM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


On the one hand, it's a great image and i'm glad he made it, but on the other hand, I wish he would just fucking pay people that he borrows from instead of just being a dick about it.

Did Obama get paid?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:52 AM on October 17, 2009


What a stupid question.
posted by empath at 12:00 PM on October 17, 2009


Pinky- Agreed.
posted by self at 12:09 PM on October 17, 2009


Is it? How about this one, was the photographer already get paid?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:10 PM on October 17, 2009


I don't particularly care about Shepard Fairey, but I care a lot about protecting fair use.

The fair use case for the poster image is very strong, and I was glad he was fighting for it since that's the only way to protect this right. If this douchebag ends up setting anti-artist precedent by lying to the judge because he was trying to protect his own skinny-jeans ass... unforgivable.
posted by zota at 12:11 PM on October 17, 2009 [12 favorites]


God forbid we conflate the artist with his art.
posted by phaedon at 12:13 PM on October 17, 2009


It's one thing to appropriate stuff when you're just tagging walls it's another thing when you're a multi-millionaire CEO of a design firm.

It's exactly the same thing if you make money off the use of someone else's creative work in either case.
posted by fourcheesemac at 12:23 PM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


I can trace a picture in illustrator and ask my staff of people (however non-existent) whether this color scheme or that one reflects on my unstated statement appropriately; at which point they will inevitably reply "neither", and tell me to use Google's image search to find "democratic/vaguely mid-century communist color schemes" and use the little eye-dropper tool to 'make it good-er'.

Can I be an artist now?
posted by self at 12:25 PM on October 17, 2009


I dunno, this seems like it bolsters his case if anything. The fact that there was this much confusion about which picture he sampled for his image tells us that he made some pretty significant changes to it.

It's pretty sad that this fight is even happening. The big picture is that copyright law is supposed to encourage innovation, not provide a reliable stream of income for entrenched players.
posted by mullingitover at 12:28 PM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Shepard Fairey is in the right here but he is also an absolute douche who isn't a terribly good artist (unless you count a basic familiarity with the photshop "cutout" tool artistry). I'm with Zota here, I really fear that he's hurting the cause. Probably why his lawyers no longer want to be associated with him.
posted by cyphill at 12:35 PM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


The fair use case for the poster image is very strong

If it was so strong why was he destroying his original files and lying about which image he used? Sounds like he knew he was in the wrong legally.
posted by bradbane at 12:37 PM on October 17, 2009


Mullingitover: here's a handy little photo showing that there really wasn't too much question about which photo Fairey used. (I still think he altered it enough in spirit, purpose and message that it isn't even a legal question).
posted by cyphill at 12:38 PM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


I dunno, this seems like it bolsters his case if anything. The fact that there was this much confusion about which picture he sampled for his image tells us that he made some pretty significant changes to it.

It hurts his case because Fairey manufactured all the confusion. The AP originally identified the correct image.
posted by sbutler at 12:44 PM on October 17, 2009


From Bklyn brings the subtle jokes. Good work.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 12:51 PM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Sounds like he knew he was in the wrong legally.

The fair use argument is basically the same for either image. It's conceptually transformative use that probably vastly increased the market value of the original. And to top it off, it's political speech. The only fair use test that the Clooney image is might do better on is the tightness of the crop -- a comparatively minimal factor in this case.

So why did Fairey fuck it all up by destroying evidence? Maybe he's sensitive to the critique that he's not a "real" artist and wanted to prove he did more work? Maybe he started with multiple source images and was genuinely confused at first, and only realized it after he'd already sued AP? Or maybe he's an egomaniacal idiot? Kinda doesn't matter.

And in any case, the damage is probably done. "Fairey admits wrongdoing" will come across as "The AP is right" and "Fair Use protections don't exist anymore."

Thanks for the memories, Shep.
posted by zota at 12:54 PM on October 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


If there is anything I am disappointed with here, it is the title of the FPP.

It should read:

OBEY the law
posted by humannaire at 1:38 PM on October 17, 2009


"It's exactly the same thing if you make money off the use of someone else's creative work in either case."

So... anyone know which photographers got their share of those fat checks that Andy Warhol got for his art?

What? He didn't have to pay them, because he created something entirely new, while they basically did nothing new?!

Sounds fine by me.
posted by markkraft at 1:51 PM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


> Sorry, Inspector.G, I don't know what you're talking about.
posted by From Bklyn at 1:56 PM on October 17, 2009


"> Sorry, Inspector.G, I don't know what you're talking about."

Inspector G was employing sarcasm as a means to parody comments which were lacking in imagination and subtlety. I recommend studying this page for pointers on how you, too, can make use of this form of humor to write gooder.
posted by mullingitover at 2:12 PM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Change (into a truck)
posted by BitterOldPunk at 2:17 PM on October 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


What? He didn't have to pay them, because he created something entirely new, while they basically did nothing new?!


A stock advertising photo of a soup can and a portrait of a presidential candidate are two different orders of creativity. And one of them is signed, with rights reserved.

Even so, by your logic I can take Andy Warhol's soup cans and print them up for a soup label without owing a cent to the estate of Andy Warhol (of whom saying he did "something new" is about the most praise I could muster, because yeah, I could photograph shit and call it something new too). New use, no foul. Oh wait, he signed those images and claimed copyright in them?

Well, then, there you have it.

Either IP law applies equally to everyone, or it doesn't make sense. This is as true of creative commons and other open-access style licensing as it is of traditional copyright. You don't get an exception because you're a radical and not a corporate artist, or because you're too cool for school, or because the image you used for your artwork wasn't making anyone any money before you borrowed it.
posted by fourcheesemac at 2:23 PM on October 17, 2009


Way to fuck up fair use for the rest of us with your self-serving jackassery, Mr. Fairey. The intellectual freedom afforded by fair use is an extremely valuable and increasingly impinged upon resource, and you just made it look like a bad excuse to commit fraud. I really hope the damage you've done to the cause is undone quickly, but I'm not optimistic.
posted by speicus at 3:11 PM on October 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


You don't get an exception because you're a radical...

Actually you can get an exception for being a radical. You can also get an exception based on the impact you have on how much money the original work can make.

However as we're now seeing, the "too cool for school" defense is a very poor indicator of fair use. Not recommended.

posted by zota at 3:39 PM on October 17, 2009


Way to fuck up fair use for the rest of us with your self-serving jackassery, Mr. Fairey.

I don't know that the law has changed at all. He didn't help, but there has been no damage to the legal system.
posted by krinklyfig at 3:44 PM on October 17, 2009


So... anyone know which photographers got their share of those fat checks that Andy Warhol got for his art?

Warhol was sued several times and settled out of court. So did Rauschenberg (I occasionally work for an older photographer who had one of his images appropriated in a combine, he also got an out of court settlement).


We still have fair use, artists are still making work, the world is not ending.
posted by bradbane at 3:46 PM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


> Warhol was sued several times and settled out of court. So did Rauschenberg...

The system as designed punished some of the most important artists of our generation, and you don't see that as a problem?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:24 PM on October 17, 2009



Shepard Fairey is in the right here but he is also an absolute douche


PREVIOUSLY
posted by philip-random at 5:47 PM on October 17, 2009


It's sad to see a guy lose his posse.
posted by bobbyno at 8:01 PM on October 17, 2009


"A stock advertising photo of a soup can and a portrait of a presidential candidate are two different orders of creativity. And one of them is signed, with rights reserved."

You don't know what you are talking about.
posted by klangklangston at 8:16 PM on October 17, 2009


Jagoff acts like a jagoff?
posted by From Bklyn


Are you sure you're not from Pittsburgh?
posted by StickyCarpet at 11:09 PM on October 17, 2009


Fairey is a master, a Disaster Master, that is. His empire of stickers, merchandise, and disdain is crumbling around him as the world of self expression and Individualism swirls down into the garbage disposal of Mainstream Culture like so much dirty dish water. He seeks consul in an old monk in Kansas City, but just before entering the church he is bombarded by ubiquitous Bob Berdella stickers littering Westport. "What have I done?" He asks, silence is the answer.
posted by hellojed at 11:43 PM on October 17, 2009


You can also get an exception based on the impact you have on how much money the original work can make.

Damaging the market value of the original work counts against fair use, but i doesn't necessarily follow that increasing its market value counts in favor. Has any actual decision backed this up?
posted by Lazlo at 1:35 AM on October 18, 2009


mullingitover - but there was no hamburger!

{\}
posted by russm at 2:08 AM on October 18, 2009


Can I be an artist now?

no, you will never be an artist. you think it's about craft only, not approach, idea or concept, so you are doomed to follow assembly instructions. you will never rise above being a craftsman.

but don't worry, it's a decent job, too.
posted by krautland at 7:10 PM on October 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


What intrigues me about this case is that Fairey didn't also get a nasty letter from Pedro Almodóvar's lawyers...
posted by Skeptic at 5:26 AM on October 19, 2009


I was in Pittsburgh over the weekend, and Shepard Fairey gave a talk at the Warhol Museum on Saturday. It was way overpriced so I didn't attend.

Coincident with this event there seemed to be fresh OBEY and other familiar Fairey poster tags all over the city. I saw none last time I was in town.

When OBEY wasn't commercially used, tagging it all over the place was maybe possibly art.

Now that it is a brand name for T-Shirts, prints, Books, Stickers, Clothing, Collectibles, putting that crap up all over other peoples property is uncompensated destructive advertising.

How would you feel if American Apparel, Forever 21 or Ralph Lauren started tagging huge posters of their logo all over your town? On houses, billboards, public property, etc.

I'm sure Shepard would deny any involvement, but who else has the motivation to put up his posters like that.
posted by Antidisestablishmentarianist at 2:56 PM on October 19, 2009


Obey Store Link
posted by Antidisestablishmentarianist at 2:58 PM on October 19, 2009


Fairey tagged Boston when his 'Supply & Demand' exhibition launched at the ICA in Boston this past February. He was arrested for the tagging. I suspect tagging throughout the city was intentional on his part, as a stunt to get publicity.
posted by ericb at 3:32 PM on October 19, 2009


Wow, good call ericb. He gave the talk as part of his opening for Supply and Demand at the Warhol. Thanks for the links!
posted by Antidisestablishmentarianist at 7:02 PM on October 19, 2009


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