AP asks judge to keep HOPE artist's lawyers

AP News
Posted: Nov 09, 2009 9:14 PM

The Associated Press has asked a judge to deny a request by the attorneys of street artist Shepard Fairey to withdraw from his copyright battle over the Barack Obama "HOPE" poster.

Fairey's lawyers have asked for permission to withdraw after Fairey acknowledged he was mistaken about which AP photo he used to create his famous image and attempted to destroy evidence of his error.

In papers filed Monday in Manhattan federal court, the news organization said that the request should be turned down because his attorneys have "unique knowledge" about Fairey's wrongdoing.

"In addition," according to the papers, "having new counsel start fresh nine months into the case after extensive discovery has already occurred would cause additional prejudice and undue delay to The AP, which, as a not-for-profit organization, has already been forced to incur significant expense in discovery due to Fairey's attempt to hide which photo he used to make the Obama posters."

Fairey's legal team is led by Anthony Falzone, executive director of the Fair Use Project at Stanford University. The artist's proposed new attorneys include Geoffrey Stewart of the Jones Day law firm and William Fisher III, director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University.

Fairey had claimed his "HOPE" image, seen throughout last year's campaign, was based on a 2006 photo of then-Sen. Barack Obama, seated next to actor George Clooney at a press event in Washington. Fairey now says that he used a solo, close-up shot of Obama, as the AP had alleged.

Fairey sued the news cooperative in February, arguing that he had so transformed his source material he was protected by "fair use" guidelines. The AP countersued in March, saying Fairey had violated copyright laws.

Lawyers for the two sides will meet Tuesday morning before Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein.