Fairey vs. The World

Speaking of memorabilia, the artist behind the ultimate Obama memorabilia got busted last night.

From WCVB:

...Shepard Fairey, 38, was arrested on two outstanding warrants as he was about to enter an exhibition of his work at the Institute of Contemporary Art. Fairey was charged with damage to property for having painted two Boston area locations with graffiti, spokesman James Kenneally said.

Fairey told the Los Angeles Times last year that his "Obey Giant" street art campaign had led to his arrest many times.

Boston police said he had painted his "Andre The Giant" graffiti near an entrance to the Massachusetts Turpike and the Boston University bridge across the Charles River...

Up until this week, I thought those iconic red, white and blue images of our president were created by his campaign. I had no clue who the real artist was until I started watching some TV commercial he is in right now and a new tour of his artwork. Then I read an angry letter in this week's Boston Phoenix.

Fairey, who is notorious for having sticky fingers and “appropriating” other artists’ work for his multi-million dollar company, without giving a dime of compensation or credit when he can, is somehow painted as the innocent anti-establishment artist. Give me a break. You were so busy kissing Fairey’s ass you probably didn’t have time to ask him about René Mederos, the Cuban artist that he stole from to create one of his more popular T-shirt designs. Only when caught did Fairey’s company pull the T-shirt and pay the artist’s family a pittance of a royalty fee. Now Fairey’s most famous work of President Obama is proving to be just as mired in plagiarism — he’s attempting to stiff the original photographer. Fairey’s proving himself to be the next Todd Goldman, and trying to say that finding something on Google means he doesn’t need to give credit where credit’s due. Funny, I found his art on Google — but he wants me to pay him to hang it on a wall.

Way to go, Phoenix — you really know how to side with the short-changed artists.

The photographer Fairey is accused of stealing from is a former Associated Press staffer. If the AP is not down with being stiffed by the blogosphere, they are certainly not going to take crap from some street artist.

The Associated Press, which claims the art is based on a photograph taken by one of its photographers, has alleged copyright infringement and wants credit and compensation.

“We have reached out to Mr. Fairey's attorney and are in discussions. We hope for an amicable solution." said Paul Colford, AP's director of media relations.

The image, Fairey has acknowledged, is based on an Associated Press photograph, taken in April 2006 by Mannie Garcia on assignment for the AP at the National Press Club in Washington.

"We believe fair use protects Shepard's right to do what he did here," Fairey's lawyer, Anthony Falzone, told the Associated Press.

The image was used by Time magazine on its cover when it named Obama its "Person Of The Year."

I am interested in how this will play out. I wonder if the Obama campaign paid Fairey for helping to get its man elected...

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