Friday, August 13, 2010

Shepard Fairey vs The AP-- what is the fight really about?

Shepard Fairey vs The AP-- what is the fight really about?

Anyone familiar with the myartspace blog knows that I have issue with some of the opinions of Shepard Fairey concerning copyright and appropriation-- to the point that my opinions on the matter have been quotes by the Boston Globe and other news sources. I’m not going to go into detail about the Fairey vs. AP case because it has been covered before on this blog and the information is fairly easy to find with a mere Google search. However, I will make it clear that I do not think that-- as Fairey suggests-- his stance concerning the AP is one of “fighting” the good fight to “ protect the rights of all artists”-- as mentioned on his Obey website,

That Fairey would have the public believe that he truly supports “broad rights of fair use and free expression” is laughable at best. Why you ask? Because Fairey tends to call artists who parody his work “parasites”, “mimics”, or worse. He has-- according to various articles online-- threatened artists with lawsuits in the past simply because their interpretation of fair use is as broad as his concerning the use of his artwork. I’ve made a case for those specific works in the past-- and I feel I made a good point as to why they do fall within current law regarding fair use. After all, specific works of art by Shepard Fairey are known throughout the world-- said works are the perfect target for parody and social commentary.

That said, when Fairey suggests that he is fighting for the rights of all artists concerning a broad interpretation of fair use he is implying that everyone should have the right to use any image they find online or offline in order to create artwork. That is all fine and good-- in fact it is perfectly legal and supported by current laws until profit is involved. Profit is where the problem starts-- and anyone with a brain knows that at the heart of Fairey’s “fight” is his desire to profit from his artwork through prints and other merchandise-- and thus, profit from other artists and photographers without giving proper recognition or payment.

The fact that Fairey has given proper recognition and payment to artists after being exposed-- as has happened in the past-- does little to help back his current crusade for “artists rights”. In fact, it is a clear reason why the validity of his motives should be questioned-- as well as the validity of his body of artwork. I can’t help but think that this new Shepard Fairey is still the same artist who calls others “parasites” and “mimics” when his images are used without consent.

The fact remains that when I look at a work of art by Shepard Fairey I can’t help but wonder if the shadows of other artists are being overcome by the light of Fairey’s popularity and media driven glorification. It is a clear sign of what the cult of personality can achieve-- when artists who would otherwise be up in arms over copyright infringement give blind acceptance via means of support to Fairey’s rhetoric on the matter.

One has to ask who exactly Fairey is striving to “fight” for as far as artists go-- especially when one considers his past statements concerning fair use involving his own artwork. Is he truly looking out for all artists or just himself? Is he looking out for all artists no matter what level of success achieved-- or just artists like himself who have already reached a level of fame? When I read statements by the artist who says to “question everything” I can’t help but think that we are not getting a solid answer. What say you?

As for the legal dispute between Shepard Fairey and The Associated Press-- Fairey will most likely lose if the case continues. I’m not sure of where it stands now-- but a recent article on the Huffington Post declares that a judge suggested that a settlement be reached or else Fairey is likely to lose.

Links of Interest:

Judge Urges Settlement in Shepard Fairey Vs. AP Copyright Dispute Over Obama HOPE Poster by Larry Neumeister-- Huffington Post

Fair Use: Shepard Fairey and Baxter Orr by Brian Sherwin-- myartspace blog

Shepard Fairey: Obey Copyright by Brian Sherwin-- myartspace blog

The Intentions of Shepard Fairey Should be Examined by Brian Sherwin-- myartspace blog

Birds of a Feather Flock Together: Damien Hirst & Shepard Fairey / Cartrain & Baxter Orr by Brian Sherwin-- myartspace blog

Obama’s Obedient Artist: Is Shepard Fairey a Farce? By Brian Sherwin-- myartspace blog

Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin
Senior Editor

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That talented tracer sends out cease and desist orders if an artist comes inches close to his style!!!