Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Wake-Up Call: From hope to nope

You can still spot remnants of Shepard Fairey's iconic Barack Obama posters around town, which the artist himself slapped up during the Democratic National Convention (earning himself a stint in the clink in the process, as Jared Jacang Maher first reported here).

But even the most grassroots efforts grow up, and now Fairey, whose Obama work has been collected by the Smithsonian, has been slapped with a very adult complaint from the Associated Press, which says it owns the copyright to the photo that inspired the image. "The Associated Press has determined that the photograph used in the poster is an AP photo and that its use required permission," the AP said in a statement released this week.

The audacity of nope! But Fairey's lawyer argues that the L.A. artist's work is protected by fair use -- and certainly, plenty of other wags have used Fairey's piece as the inspiration for their own knock-offs, as seen in this Village Voice slide show.

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun