Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Iconic Obama Image


The guy who created the "iconic" portrait of President Obama is being sued by AP because his image is based on a photo taken by an AP photographer which AP "owns". The artist's lawyer argues that this qualifies as "fair use" of the image. In my opinion this is nothing but greed on the part of AP. They obviously would not be doing this had the image not become so successful. It also raises interesting questions about who owns images. Say an architect designs an iconic building, and a few years later an artist paints a picture of it as artists often do. Say that painting later becomes famous in its own right - can that artist be sued? Can the Picasso estate be sued by Bass Ale because some Picasso's paintings contain pictures of Bass Ale bottles? The artist who made this portrait of the president created his own unique work of art. What about musicians who use the same guitar riff? It is just too fantastic what the AP is trying to claim. Yes, the Obama was based on an existing image, but the artist made his own out of it. The existing image was simply an inspirational jumping off point. 

2 comments:

axegrinder said...

As a point of contact, one of my roommates was threatened with legal action by Shepard Fairey for parodying one of his works.

J. Gordon Anderson said...

Hmmm - that's interesting. I would love to hear more about that.