Shepard Fairey Admits He Lied About Which Photo He Used

- - copyright

FaireyvsGarciaIn a strange twist to an important case with strange twists (photographer Mannie Garcia claims AP has no rights to the image) Shepard Fairey admits that the image he used for his iconic poster was the image that everyone and their dog knew he used: The image that’s an exact match to the poster.

From the NYTimes story (here):

Attorneys for Fairey have withdrawn and, in papers filed Friday in federal court in Manhattan, stated that he misled them. They also amended the original court documents, reflecting that Fairey used a different picture.

”Mr. Fairey was apparently mistaken about the photograph he used when his original complaint for declaratory relief was filed on February 9, 2009,” the papers say. ”After the original complaint was filed, Mr. Fairey realized his mistake. Instead of acknowledging that mistake, Mr. Fairey attempted to delete the electronic files he had used in creating the illustration at issue. He also created, and delivered to his counsel for production, new documents to make it appear as though he had used the Clooney photograph as his reference.”

This has to do serious damage to any fair use argument because obviously he’s trying to cover something up. But, as I’ve discovered by following this case “how much is too much,” when you base your work on someone else’s work can only be determined by a court. In my mind the real test would be how much time and effort was spent by Fairey to find the perfect image to base his poster on and he’s already admitted that he looked at thousands before finding the right shot.

There Are 20 Comments On This Article.

  1. So wait, which photograph did he actually use if it wasn’t the Mannie Garcia photo…?

    I know it’s said that “all publicity is good publicity,” but I have to believe (or at least I would like to believe) that in a case like this the “bad” publicity is going to harm Shepard Fairey’s career. Despite so much evidence to the contrary, I still want to believe that integrity is of high value, and that to be lacking in integrity should be a barrier –or at least an impediment– to success…

  2. >>in a case like this the “bad” publicity is going to harm Shepard Fairey’s career.

    Jill Greenberg seems to be doing just fine following her bad publicity.

  3. The errors of youth! My inital reaction to this is the Fairey should be burned at the stake for the violation of use. Yet as I reflect at my years of life and the mistakes I have made, how would I have faired if judged the same.

    Yet there is a distinction in what Fairey did, it takes the bigger man to admit the error than to lie.

    He should suffer and have to earn back trust. I don’t think it should be something that ends his career as an artist. I do think what and how much he earns should be much different. He should be back to ground zero for his reputation and abilities as an artist. If he works hard he can gain the trust needed to be a very successful artist.

    One last thought came to mind, maybe this represents the climate of our nations political climate. Maybe it is okay to misrepresent your abilities and agenda. Maybe pay for the mistake later if you get caught. I don’t just a thought.

    I do think though, how difficult would it have been to ask to use the image.

  4. This is really icky because everyone wanted to do good but in his zeal to advance his career Fairey tried to scam the system. I’ll bet if he was honest up front and said something like, “I created the poster using ‘insert photographer’s name’ photo and they deserve credit”, this would not be an issue. There is nothing wrong with co-creations if it’s transparent and/or revenues are shared.

    There is a point where it is obvious that the artist, in this case Fairey, knows they are doing wrong and taking advantage.

  5. FAirey admitted that he lied to his lawyers and to the courtsbut he stil lwants to make the case that his work is only based on MAnny GArcia’s original and therefore is kosher. These are two seperate matters. The first is legal and has consequences for Fairey. The second is an issue or morality and ethtics. A third area for want ofa better term is Art and aesthetics

    legally heShepard put himself in a very bad position. and once again proves somethign I thought we all learned from Watergate and the Monica Lewinsky /Clinton cases, and numerous others; the coverup is lmost always wort than the crime.

    Morals and ethics isn’t clearcut and it is only up to Fairey if he thinks he owes a cut of the millions (yes millions) he has made off of Manny Garcia’s original. yes his base material is Garcia’s original, and the work he did made it it into something new. But the moral issue remains; does Fairey Shepard owe Manny Garcia and Garcia’s employer (AP) some of his profits? That is the original legal issue and it is separate from the new one. (The Garcia vs, AP tussle over who actually owns the iamge or how much a stake both parties own in the photo is another matter entirely.)

    In terms of art history there are plenty of cases where this kind of creative plagerism /theft Fairey Shepard engages in is part and parcel of the creative process. Think of John Heartfield’s anti-Nazi work like http://tinyurl.com/Heartfield

  6. If you look back at Shephard Fairey’s life, he is known for being dishonest. Even back to the cheating scandal at Porter Gaud High School in Charleston, SC. Taking credit for the Andre the Giant has a Posse sticker that was all over Charleston. He has built his career on the ideas of others.

  7. scott Rex Ely

    Nadine Gordimer:
    “Responsibility is what awaits outside the Eden of Creativity.”

  8. Wouldn’t it be funny if the courts found (correctly) that Manny holds the copyright to the work and the AP’s case gets thrown out?

    If the AP owns the copyright, why haven’t they just come forth with the necessary contract stating so? Probably because there was no contract and therefore the copyright was never transferred. Sorry AP. You can’t sue someone for stealing something you don’t own.

  9. “In my mind the real test would be how much time and effort was spent by Fairey to find the perfect image to base his poster on and he’s already admitted that he looked at thousands before finding the right shot.”

    So you are saying that the amount of time and effort someone spends looking for a photo to steal allows them to earn the right to do so?

  10. so did he base it on the Garcia photo (that featured George Clooney) or was it another Garcia photo?

    Or a photo by someone else?

  11. So Mr Fairey won’t mind if I take his image, switch the colors and write the word “Change” for example and claim it as my own??? …!

    “Fairey described his craft as manipulating existing images and said barring such work is like ”saying you can’t use those words anymore, they’ve already been used. How would we talk to each other?”

    Ridiculous analogy for if these words are arranged in a certain order as in a poem …No they are not fair game!

  12. The Phantom Street Artist has said:
    People will one day speak of a Future Day and Time when a coined term will come from the voice of the streets. The term will be a definitive colloquial called Fairey Use TM to mean when an artist out of disrespect betrays important historical and revolutionary cultures, languages and authors to advance his own selfish interest in greed and mammon. This is called Fairey Use TM when an artist steals from other artists, cultural references and fails to give proper credit then tampers with federal evidence then hides behind important movements like the creative commons and attempts to escape justice under interpretative legal defense.
    In a sentence:

    Mommy is that artist pulling a Fairey Use?