Hope Poster © Shepard Fairey/Mannie Garcia/Associated Press
Shepard Fairey has received two years of probation after he was convicted of "criminal contempt for destroying documents and fabricating others in a civil lawsuit he brought against The Associated Press", the news organisation has confirmed. Fairey will also complete 300 hours of community service.
Fairey created the celebrated "Hope" posters, which served as a rallying call for a change of government during the 2008 US elections, and were seen plastered all over the country. The posters were designed by artist Shepard Fairey, but were based on an image The Associated Press owned.
Following a long legal battle, AP was able to prove that Fairey had used the image without authorisation. Earlier this year, the artist pleaded guilty to one count of criminal contempt "for destroying documents, manufacturing evidence and other misconduct in civil litigation against The Associated Press".
During his case against AP, Fairey claimed he had not used AP's image to create the Hope poster, insisting, instead, that he had used another image that featured both Obama and actor George Clooney. "In order to cover up the fact that his complaint was not true, Fairey created multiple false and fraudulent documents, attempting to show he had used the photograph of then Senator Obama with George Clooney in it as his reference," read a previous court report. "Fairey also attempted to delete multiple electronically stored documents that demonstrated he had, in fact, used the tightly cropped image of then Senator Obama as the reference. The false and fraudulent documents were produced to AP during discovery, and the documents that Fairey attempted to delete were not initially produced to AP."
While Fairey argued that his use of the image fell under Fair Use, AP said the artist needed a license to use its image.
"After spending a great amount of time, energy and legal effort, all of us at The Associated Press are glad this matter is finally behind us," said AP president and CEO Gary Pruitt. "We hope this case will serve as a clear reminder to all of the importance of fair compensation for those who gather and produce original news content."
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