Copyright or Right to Copy? That is the Question…

September 20, 2012

In the Art world, there are some rules that everyone knows to play by.  One of the most important rules has to do with copyright issues.  Be your own designer! Don’t steal ideas or pieces from other artists and use them in your own work, unless properly bought or asked for.  This rule is especially important when your work is on the internet or in the public eye.

This was a lesson that Shepard Fairey, the graphic designer I have for the magazine layout project, learned the hard way. He is famous for his powerful political statements in his posters.  One of the pieces that got a lot of attention, much of it for a negative reason, was his Obama posters for the Political campaign.

Left – The picture The AP Photographer took
Right – Fairey’s Campaign Poster

An uprising occurred when people realized that the picture that Fairey used was a picture taken by a photographer for The Associated Press.  The AP told Fairey that he would need to change his design because he was committing a crime by using this copyrighted image.  Fairey argued that he hadn’t used that picture, and he had gotten his picture from somewhere else.  Fairey decided to take The AP to trial to prove that his use of the picture was acceptable.

During the trial, Fairey admitted to using the picture taken by the photographer, and said he was wrong; the dispute is over, but it is still being decided if he should do jail time for his crime.

These issues have serious punishments, so do yourself a favor and create your own work, from your own head!

Check out the following websites to read some details about the trial and what is being decided now:

http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/24/shepard-fairey-pleads-guilty-over-obama-hope-image/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/06/shepard-fairey-jail_n_1861680.html

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