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Iconic Image Of Obama Sets Off Copyright Law, Fair Use Battle

Publication Date: 
February 10, 2009
San Jose Mercury News
Dana Hull

Lecturer in Law Anthony Falzone is quoted in a San Jose Mercury News story about a lawsuit filed by street artist Shepard Fairey, creator of an iconic Obama poster, seeking a declaration that Fairey's work does not infringe on an Associated Press copyright. The Mercury News writes:

But Monday, Fairey's attorneys — The Fair Use Project at Stanford Law School and a San Francisco law firm — beat the AP to court.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, seeks a declaration stating that Fairey's artwork does not infringe any copyrights and is protected by the Fair Use Doctrine. "Fair use" allows limited use of copyrighted material without permission, typically for parody or satire.


"There should be no doubt about the legality of Fairey's work," said Anthony Falzone, executive director of the Fair Use Project at Stanford and the lead of Fairey's legal team. "He used the photograph for a purpose entirely different than the original, and transformed it dramatically."