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January 28, 2011
Thierry Guetta, Shepard Fairey, and Copyright Lawsuits
Earlier this week Sean Bonner posted a piece on Boingboing covering this ground
. The blog entry is a bit long but well worth reading.
I had been meaning to note that, earlier this month, Fairey had settled his 'hopeless' case with the Associated Press. Hopeless referring here not just to the iconic "Hope" picture that caused the problem, but also in that I thought Fairey had rendered his own case hopeless when he admitted that he had destroyed evidence and his defense lawyers quit. But apparently they worked it out.
Whether or not Guetta will also be able to work something out remains in doubt. As Bonner describes, the Guetta case differs from the Fairey one in some significant areas, not least of which is the fact that Fairey's poster made the photo he used iconic where Guetta has taken an already iconic photo (of the rap group Run DMC) and used it without any credit back to the original. The shooter of that original, Glen E. Friedman, happens to have worked with Fairey in the past but that's about all the connection there is.
Bonner also points out that Fairey made such substantial change to the original photo that even the AP photographer who took it didn't recognize his own work for months; Guetta's changes are much less significant, and they're being made to a photograph that has been used and sold on its own for years prior to its appropriation. It's a whole other ballgame from the Fair Use perspective, which is probably how it should be.
(Image: Sean Bonner from a Times of India video still.)
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