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AP countersues Obama artist

March 12, 2009|Associated Press

The Associated Press countersued an artist Wednesday over his famous image of Barack Obama, saying the uncredited, uncompensated use of an AP photo violated copyright laws and signaled a threat to journalism.

The artist, Shepard Fairey, sued the not-for-profit news cooperative last month over his artwork, titled "Obama Hope" and "Obama Progress," arguing that he didn't violate copyright law because he dramatically changed the image.

The artwork, based on an April 2006 picture taken for the AP by Mannie Garcia, was a popular image during the presidential campaign and now hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington.

According to the AP lawsuit filed in federal court in Manhattan, Fairey knowingly "misappropriated the AP's rights in that image." The suit asks the court to award AP profits made off the image and damages.

Fairey said he looked forward to "upholding the free expression rights at stake here" and disproving the AP's accusations.

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