February 9, 2009  |  art, Art & Commerce, Fair Use, Graffiti, News, Obama, Politiks, Shepard Fairey, Street Art  |  Comments Off


The drama heats up in SHEPARD FAIREY's fight with the ASSOCIATED PRESS after the agency filed a lawsuit last week claiming rights to the artist's BARACK OBAMA campaign imagery after learning the work was based on an existing AP photo. Today, THE FAIR USE PROJECT at STANFORD LAW SCHOOL’S CENTER FOR INTERNET AND SOCIETY (who is working Fairey's case pro bono) and San Francisco-based law firm DURIE TANGRI LEMLEY ROBERTS & KENT LLP filed a counter suit against the Associated Press on Fairey's behalf:

"The Fair Use Project at Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society and San Francisco-based Durie Tangri Lemley Roberts & Kent LLP filed a lawsuit today against the Associated Press (AP) on behalf of Shepard Fairey and his production company Obey Giant Art, Inc. in connection with the series of iconic works Fairey created to support the candidacy of President Barack Obama.

Last week, the AP accused Fairey of infringing copyrights it says it holds in a photograph that was taken of Barack Obama by photographer Mannie Garcia at the National Press Club in 2006. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, seeks a declaration from the Court holding that Fairey did not infringe AP’s copyrights in creating the now-famous Obama Hope poster and other related works, as well as an injunction against further assertion of copyrights by the AP against Fairey or anyone else who displays his work.

“There should be no doubt about the legality of Fairey's work,” said Anthony Falzone, executive director of the Fair Use Project and lecturer in law at Stanford Law School, who is leading Fairey’s legal team. “He used the photograph for a purpose entirely different than the original, and transformed it dramatically. The original photograph is a literal depiction of Obama, whereas Fairey's poster creates powerful new meaning and conveys a radically different message that has no analogue in the original photograph. Nor has Fairey done any harm to the value of the original photograph. Quite the opposite; Fairey has made the photograph immeasurably more valuable.” Click HERE to continue reading...

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February 9, 2009  |  art, Art & Commerce, Fair Use, News, Shepard Fairey, Street Art  |  Comments Off


You'd literally have to be living under a rock lately to have not heard the news that Supertouch's SHEPARD FAIREY is currently being sued by the ASSOCIATED PRESS for his use of an image the agency is now claiming dominion over after the artist used it to create the most iconic piece of American political art of all time. Today, the esteemed HUFFINGTON POST is pulling the AP's card with Jonathan Melber holding the pen:

By Jonathan Melber
(Co-author of "ART/WORK: Everything You Need to Know (And Do) As You Pursue Your Art Career")
Huffington Post, February 8, 2009

 A few days ago, the Associated Press announced that Obama's famous HOPE poster amounts to copyright infringement. The artist behind the poster, Shepard Fairey, has never hidden the fact that he based his iconic creation on a photograph he found through Google. The AP thinks it owns the copyright to that photograph, since Mannie Garcia was freelancing for the AP when he shot it. With posters sold out, a special edition in the National Portrait Gallery, and major exhibitions in New York and Boston, the AP wants in on the windfall.

But the AP would very likely lose this case if it ever ended up in court. That's because, under copyright law, Fairey's work almost certainly qualifies as "fair use" of Garcia's photograph.

The term "fair use" gets batted around a lot, often incorrectly, and so deserves some explanation. At the most general level, copyright law prohibits you from copying another person's original creative work. That means you're typically not allowed to create work using someone else's original unless you pay that person. "Fair use" is an exception to this rule: it says that sometimes you don't have to pay someone to use his or her original work. Whether you do--that is, whether your new work qualifies as "fair use"--depends on what, exactly, the original work is, how much of it you're using, how you transform it, and whether your new work hurts the commercial market for the original. (Note that the issue has nothing to do with whether anyone thinks your use is "fair.")

By far the most important factor is how you transform the original work--but, contrary to popular belief, the transformation that really matters is the conceptual one, not the physical one.
Take, for example, an influential 2006 decision vindicating Jeff Koons. A fashion photographer named Andrea Blanch sued Koons for using a picture of hers in one of his paintings without paying her. Koons had scanned her photograph, which she had taken for a Gucci ad, and cut and pasted it into a digital composition he then painted. The federal appeals court said that Koons didn't need to pay Blanch to do what he did, because of how thoroughly Koons had transformed the photograph.
Click HERE to continue reading...

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February 7, 2009  |  art, Art Crimes, Boston, Graffiti, News, Shepard Fairey, Street Art  |  Comments Off

Supertouch's own SHEPARD FAIREY was arrested for alleged vandalism claims while attempting to enter the grand public opening of his first museum solo show at the INSTITUTE OF CONTEMPORARY ART/BOSTON last nite. Currently he's out on bail and awaiting a court appearance in Boston on Monday:


"A street artist famous for his red, white and blue "Hope" posters of President Obama was arrested in Boston, where he was wanted on warrants for tagging property with graffiti.

Shepard Fairey, 38, was arrested Friday night on his way to the Institute of Contemporary Art. Fairey was scheduled to deejay a kickoff event at the museum for his first-ever solo exhibition, called "Supply and Demand."

Two warrants were issued for Fairey on Jan. 24 after police determined he’d tagged property in two locations with graffiti based on the Andre the Giant street art campaign from his early career, Boston Police Officer James Kenneally said Saturday.

Fairey, of Los Angeles, is scheduled to be arraigned on the misdemeanor charges Monday in Brighton District Court, said Jake Wark, a spokesman for the Suffolk District Attorney. Wark said Fairey would also be arraigned on a default warrant related to a separate graffiti case in the Roxbury section of Boston.

Fairey has spent the last two weeks in the Boston area installing the ICA exhibit, giving public talks and creating outdoor art, including a 20-by-50 foot banner on the side of City Hall, according to a statement issued Saturday by the ICA.

The museum described the reason for Fairey’s arrest as "his efforts posting his art in various areas around the city."

"We believe Shepard Fairey has made an important contribution in the history of art and to popular thinking about art and its role in society," the statement said. "We are enthusiastic to be working with him and are pleased to be showing the first museum retrospective of his work."

The museum said Fairey was released a few hours after his arrest, but that could not immediately be confirmed by authorities. A California lawyer who has represented Fairey in the copyright case didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment on the arrest." Click HERE to continue reading...

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February 6, 2009  |  art, Boston, Graffiti, News, Openings, Origins of Style, Shepard Fairey, Street Art  |  Comments Off

shepbosopen2.jpg shepbosopen1.jpg

Our own SHEPARD FAIREY has been a near constant presence on Supertouch of late, but what can we say, the last year has belonged to him. Capping off an epic string of career milestones beginning with his street level branding of the Obama campaign to being inducted into the Smithsonian and the attendant media blitz that ensued–most famously with his appearances on The Colbert Report and Charlie Rose, Ol' Shep managed to cap it all off last nite with the VIP preview of his career retrospective art show "Supply & Demand" at the INSTITUTE OF CONTEMPORARY ART/BOSTON. Of course there were even more media microphones and cameras there (that's after doing two days of press before hand), but this time so was his loyal legion of diehard fans, which made it all worthwhile. Just to up the irony factor, local government just unveiled a massive Shepard mural outside the entrance of historic City Hall with the Mayor presiding over the occasion. Looks like art crime pays after all. HAVE A LOOK: Read More

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February 5, 2009  |  art, News, Obama, Obey Giant, Politiks, Shepard Fairey  |  Comments Off


The concept of "Fair Use" has been a frequent subject of discussion here on Supertouch lately. The ASSOCIATED PRESS' new claim that SHEPARD FAIREY's ubiquitous artwork created for BARACK OBAMA's presidential campaign violates the copyright of a photo in their archive will now prove yet another test of this conceptual cornerstone of the modern art world:

On buttons, posters and Web sites, 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 Manny Garcia on assignment for the AP at the National Press Club in Washington.

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

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

"AP safeguards its assets and looks at these events on a case-by-case basis. We have reached out to Mr. Fairey's attorney and are in discussions. We hope for an amicable solution."

"We believe fair use protects Shepard's right to do what he did here," says Fairey's attorney, Anthony Falzone, executive director of the Fair Use Project at Stanford University and a lecturer at the Stanford Law School. "It wouldn't be appropriate to comment beyond that at this time because we are in discussions about this with the AP."

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. Click HERE to continue reading...

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February 3, 2009  |  art, Graffiti, Obama, Politiks, Shepard Fairey, Street Art, Street Politiks, Video  |  Comments Off

2009 really is SHEPARD FAIREY's year; we're just living in it. On the eve of today's press preview of his massive retrospective art show at the INSTITUTE OF CONTEMPORARY ART/BOSTON, Shepard spoke to CHARLIE ROSE last nite about the intricacies of branding a presidential campaign from street level.

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As underground art phenomenon SHEPARD FAIREY’s first major museum retrospective prepares to open at the INSTITUTE OF CONTEMPORARY ART/BOSTON on February 6th, we feel the need to address some of the vicious and unfounded rumors surrounding the originality of Shepard’s artwork that have been floated online in recent years. Though written by a variety of different detractors for a questionable array of reasons, the common thread binding them all—aside from a thinly masked veneer of obvious envy in most cases—is a nearly ubiquitous lack of understanding of the artist’s use of appropriated imagery in his work and the longstanding historical precedent for this mode of creative expression.

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January 21, 2009  |  Inkwell, News, Obama, Politiks, Shepard Fairey  |  Comments Off


Dedication. What you can't see is the George W. Bush tatt it's covering up...

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January 21, 2009  |  art, Graffiti, LA, News, Openings, Shepard Fairey  |  Comments Off

Martha Cooper brings back the old days at Subliminal Projects...

Beginning in the 1970s, legendary NYC street photographer MARTHA COOPER captured some of the most indelible images of the vibrant upstart Hip Hop culture of pre-reconstruction Manhattan. Her massive body of color photographs documents the most crucial movers and innovators of the era, from the then-burgeoning realms of bombing, breaking, rapping, alongside everyday peeps straight-up bugging out on the block. Snapshots of what already seems like a long-bygone era when downtown was still a dirty word, rats had the right-of-way, and curb culture wasn't yet a marketing tool are reminders of the true meaning of early Hip Hop and the power and innovation of youth culture the likes of which we might not see for some time. Currently on display at SHEPARD FAIREY's Echo Park gallery, SUBLIMINAL PROJECTS is "Street Shots," a must-see selection of some of Cooper's greatest hits with visuals so vivid the sounds and smells of the era almost leap from the prints. And that’s a good thing. HAVE A LOOK: Read More

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January 20, 2009  |  art, News, Obama, Politiks, Pop Life, Shepard Fairey, Washington DC  |  Comments Off

Shepard Fairey addresses the crowd while Moby, Michael Stipe, Heather Graham, and Rosario Dawson watch his back...

As if SHEPARD FAIREY's inclusive "Manifest Hope DC" art show honoring still-President Elect BARACK OBAMA's epic inauguration tomorrow needed any more heat, his crew of celeb homies showed up in full force to show their support in frigid DC. Rounding out the nite were rockers MOBY and MICHAEL STIPE, alongside actors JOAQUIN PHOENIX (chugging two beers at a time), HEATHER GRAHAM, CASEY AFFLEK, and ROSARIO DAWSON who all attested to the Big O's greatness before digging on intimate performances by hipster elite SANTOGOLD and OG hip hop legends DE LA SOUL. Of course Supertouch buddy and "Manifest Hope"/Obama Campaign artist TRISTAN EATON was on hand to chronicle the debauchery, the least of which we can show you here. HAVE A LOOK: Read More

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