The Associated Press is ready to go to battle against Shepard Fairey, the aritst who created the poster of Barack Obama that because famous during last year's presidential campaign. Fairey has admitted that he based his artwork on an image by AP photographer Mannie Garcia, who photographed then-Senator Obama at the National Press Club in 2006. AP claims copyright infringement, and it wants compensation. Let the debate begin.
I imagine that many photographers are rooting for AP and the sanctity of copyright protection. But I am not sure that AP will win this case. The agency has some legal hurdles to jump. According to one expert we asked, Fairey's appropriation of the photographic image would probably be allowed under the doctrine of Fair Use, which allows use of copyrighted material for specific reasons such as scholarship or review.
But even if the Fair Use Doctrine didn't apply, there are other issues facing AP. The expert we contacted wonders how much of the Garcia image contains "copyrightable elements." AP can't copyright Obama's face or expression, and the image was a studio shot featuring specialized lighting.
Your thoughts?--David Schonauer