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Trial Date Set in AP-Artist Dispute in NYC

Monday, August 23, 2010

A March trial date was set Monday to decide whether the artist who created the Barack Obama "HOPE" image violated The Associated Press' copyright when he based the image on one of the news agency's pictures.

U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein said Monday that the selection of eight jurors for a three-week trial will start March 21 in New York.

Artist Shepard Fairey appeared in court with his lawyers Monday but declined to comment afterward. Fairey sued The AP last year, arguing that his artwork during Obama's 2008 run for the presidency did not violate AP's copyrights.

The news cooperative countersued, saying the uncredited, uncompensated use of its picture violated copyright laws.

One of Fairey's lawyers, Geoffrey Stewart, told the judge that Fairey will show at trial how he made the Obama image, calling it a work of art based on one photograph.

"This isn't like some copyright case that involves hundreds of this and hundreds of that," he said. "It's really quite simple."

An AP lawyer, Michael Williams, told the judge that Fairey's recent deposition statement that he believed he created the Obama image from a portion of a photograph that included the actor George Clooney with Obama was inconsistent with Fairey's lawsuit, which said there were two photographs and that a photograph of Obama without Clooney wasn't used.

Stewart told the judge he disagreed with the AP's "characterization of the record."

Earlier this year, it was disclosed in court that Fairey is under criminal investigation after he said he erred about which AP photo he used as a basis for "HOPE." He acknowledged that he based his artwork on a picture of Obama that did not include Clooney and that he had submitted false images and deleted other images to conceal his actions.

The red, cream and light-blue "HOPE" images show a determined-looking Obama gazing upward, with the caption "HOPE."

The AP photographs were taken in 2006 when Obama, then a senator, was seated next to Clooney at a press event in Washington.

Updated 8/24

 

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