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Copyright row: Whose face is it anyway?

[ 2009-02-06 11:29]     字号 [] [] []  
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On buttons, posters and websites, the image was everywhere during last year's presidential campaign: A pensive Barack Obama looking upward, as if to the future, splashed in a Warholesque red, white and blue and underlined with the caption HOPE.

Designed by Shepard Fairey, a Los Angeles-based street artist, the image has led to sales of hundreds of thousands of posters and stickers, has become so much in demand that copies signed by Fairey have been purchased for thousands of dollars on eBay.

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

AP says it owns the copyright, and wants credit and compensation.

Fairey disagrees.

"AP has determined that the photograph used in the poster is its photo and that its use required permission," AP's director of media relations, Paul Colford, said in a statement.

But Fairey's attorney, Anthony Falzone, said: "We believe fair use protects Shepard's right to do what he did here."

"It wouldn't be appropriate to comment beyond that at this time because we are in discussions about this with AP," said Falzone, also executive director of the Fair Use Project at Stanford University.

Fair use is a legal concept that allows exceptions to copyright law, based on, among other factors, how much of the original is used, what the new work is used for and how the original is affected by the new work.

Fairey has said he found the photograph using Google Images. He released the image on his website shortly after he created it, in early 2008, and made thousands of posters for the street.

As it caught on, supporters began downloading the image and distributing it at campaign events, while blogs and other Internet sites picked it up. Fairey has said he did not receive any of the money raised.

A former Obama campaign official said they were well aware of the image based on the picture taken by Garcia, a temporary hire no longer with AP, but never licensed it or used it officially.


1. What is AP demanding from Shepard Fairey?

2. Explain what fair use means.

3. Posters signed by Fairey are sold for how much on eBay?


1. It wants credit and compensation for Fairey using an AP picture of Barack Obama.

2. It is a legal concept that allows exceptions to copyright law, based on factors including how much of the original is used, what the new work is used for and how the original is affected by the new work.

3. For thousands of dollars.

(英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Copyright row: Whose face is it anyway?

About the broadcaster:

Copyright row: Whose face is it anyway?Bernice Chan is a foreign expert at China Daily Website. Originally from Vancouver, Canada, Bernice has written for newspapers and magazines in Hong Kong and most recently worked as a broadcaster for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, producing current affairs shows and documentaries.