Man who created Obama image sentenced for contempt

Michael P. Tremoglie Sep. 13, 2012, 11:11am

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - The artist who in 2008 created a famous picture of Barack Obama using the words "Hope" and "Progress" to support his presidential election was sentenced Friday.

Shepard Fairey was sentenced to two years of probation for committing criminal contempt of court in relation to litigation he initiated against The Associated Press regarding the image.

Fairey, 42 and of Los Angeles, was also ordered to do 300 hours of community service and pay a fine of $25,000.

According to the official documents and a Justice Department communique, Fairey created the stylized likeness of Obama with the words "HOPE" and "PROGRESS" below the images. He allegedly used as a visual reference a photograph that was copyrighted by The Associated Press in early 2008.

Fairey sued the AP in 2009 Manhattan federal court after the AP complained about the image's use. Fairey wanted a declaration that the Obama works did not infringe the AP's copyrights, and that his use of an AP photograph was protected by the "fair use" doctrine of copyright law.

He alleged that he had used an AP photograph of Obama and actor George Clooney taken at an April 2006 National Press Club event as a visual reference.

But according to the DOJ, this claim was untrue. He had allegedly used another image from the same event which was also an AP photograph.

Fairey allegedly tried to hide that the assertion in his complaint was untrue. He allegedly created multiple false and fraudulent documents that attempted to show he had used the photograph of Obama with George Clooney in it as his reference, said DOJ.

Fairey disobeyed and resisted discovery orders, DOJ said.

He allegedly concealed document destruction and documents falsification. He also suggested to an employee that a back-dated document retention policy be created to justify why documents had been deleted, and coached a witness in the civil case to give an account that was untrue the DOJ said.

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