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Photographer Stakes Claim To Obama Poster

Publication Date: 
July 15, 2009
USA Today
David B. Caruso

Anthony Falzone is quoted in USA Today on the latest development in the Fair Use Project's case involving the Obama "Hope" poster.

NEW YORK — A freelance journalist whose photograph of Barack Obama was the model for the president's iconic campaign posters, says that he, not The Associated Press or artist Shepard Fairey, owns the copyright to the image. The AP and Fairey have been battling in court over intellectual property rights related to the red, white and blue "Hope" poster.

All sides acknowledge that Fairey modeled the Obama in the poster on a picture freelance photographer Mannie Garcia took at the National Press Club in Washington in 2006, while working on temporary assignment for the AP.

Fairey has said he was within his rights to use the then-obscure photo as a jumping-off point for his artwork. The AP has argued that Fairey "misappropriated" the image without permission.

But in court papers filed last week, Garcia said both are wrong. He said he never assigned the copyright for the photo to the AP, and retains the exclusive right to license the image.


Anthony Falzone, of the Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society, which is representing Fairey, said Garcia's copyright claim isn't directly relevant to the artist's argument that the poster is so different from the photo that it constitutes an original work.

"Our position is: It's fair use no matter who owns the photograph," said Falzone, who is the executive director of the center's fair use project.