Shepard Fairey, the artist behind the famous 2008 “HOPE” poster of President Barack Obama, was sentenced to two years of probation (which includes 300 hours of community service) and fined $25,000 in a New York Court on Friday. According to the Los Angeles Times, he will not serve jail time.
In 2009, Fairey was slapped with a Civil Lawsuit for using a copyrighted Associated Press photo as the basis for his rousing portrait. The artist claimed that the photo was a cropped from a shot of Obama and actor George Clooney (which he was permitted to use under the “Fair Use” act).
Fairey later admitted to destroying documents that proved he used the AP photo in question (taken in 2006) illegally and was forced to pay $1.6 million dollars.
In January of 2012, he was found guilty of criminal contempt as a result of the cover. The New York Justice Department recommended that Fairey be fined a hefty $3.2 million and be sentenced to jail time for a maximum of six months.
Following the court’s decision, Fairey posted a statement on his website ObeyGiant.com in which he acknowledged his wrongdoing and expressed his wish to continue to pursue his professional and political goals.
He states that his dishonesty has been “financially and psychologically costly to myself and my family, but also helped to obscure what I was fighting for in the first place –the ability of artists everywhere to be inspired and freely create art without reprisal.”
The New York Times is reporting that the AP is also content with the case’s conclusion.
“After spending a great amount of time, energy and legal effort, all of us at The Associated Press are glad this matter is finally behind us,” Guy Pruitt, the agency’s chief executive, said in a statement. “We hope this case will serve as a clear reminder to all of the importance of fair compensation for those who gather and produce original news content.”
During the 2008 presidential campaign, Fairey’s “HOPE” image appeared on thousands of buttons, flyers, and murals throughout the U.S. In January 2009, the work was put on display at the US national Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., (where it remains today) and was featured on the cover of Esquire magazine in February 2009.
Prior to being elected in February 2008, Obama wrote a letter to Fairey thanking him for his contribution to the campaign.
“I would like to thank you for using your talent in support of my campaign,” said the President. “The political messages involved in your work have encouraged Americans to believe they can change the status-quo. Your images have a profound effect on people, whether seen in a gallery or on a stop sign. I am privileged to be a part of your artwork and proud to have your support. I wish you continued success and creativity.”