Shepard Fairey Responds To The AP: Yes, I Lied. But It Was Still Fair Use.

We reached out to Shepard Fairey about the AP’s release this evening claiming that he had admitted lying about which image he used as the source image for his iconic Hope poster. He sent us a response (reproduced below), which effectively confirms what the AP says.

Tonight’s admission focuses on the photo that Fairey originally claimed to use during his creation of the ‘Hope’ poster — he claimed to use an image other than the one the AP claims to own, and then lied and deleted evidence when he realized he was wrong. Both were taken at the same press event. The one Fairey originally said he used showed Obama next to George Clooney, the one he really used was a close-up. The AP has succeeded in character assassination (perhaps rightfully so given Fairey’s actions), but Fairey may still have a case arguing that his image is protected under fair use. Regardless of which photo he used, by painting the image and turning it into a national icon he may have transformed it enough to render the AP’s claims invalid.

OCTOBER 16, 2009
In an effort to keep everyone up to date on my legal battle to uphold the principle of fair use in copyright laws, I wanted to notify you of a recent development in my case against The Associated Press (AP). On October 9, 2009, my lawyers sent a letter to the AP and to the photographer Mannie Garcia, through their lawyers, notifying them that I intend to amend my court pleadings. Throughout the case, there has been a question as to which Mannie Garcia photo I used as a reference to design the HOPE image. The AP claimed it was one photo, and I claimed it was another. The new filings state for the record that the AP is correct about which photo I used as a reference and that I was mistaken. While I initially believed that the photo I referenced was a different one, I discovered early on in the case that I was wrong. In an attempt to conceal my mistake I submitted false images and deleted other images. I sincerely apologize for my lapse in judgment and I take full responsibility for my actions which were mine alone. I am taking every step to correct the information and I regret I did not come forward sooner.

I am very sorry to have hurt and disappointed colleagues, friends, and family who have supported me in this difficult case and trying time in my life. I am also sorry because my actions may distract from what should be the real focus of my case – the right to fair use so that all artists can create freely. Regardless of which of the two images was used, the fair use issue should be the same.