Shepard Fairey, the artist behind the 2008 poster of Barack Obama, was fined $25,000 and sentenced to two years of probation for copyright infringement and tampering with evidence.
Fairey, who faced up to six months in prison, plead guilty to destroying documents after he was accused of stealing an Associated press photo for his “Hope” poster.
After his sentencing, Fairey said in a statement:
“My wrong-headed actions, born out of a moment of fear and embarrassment, have not only 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 NY Times reports that Fairey initially denied that he had infringed on the copyright of an Associated Press photograph. Fairey even filed a lawsuit against the AP saying that he had used a different photograph to create his poster. Fairey later admitted to using the AP photo but said that his use of the image was protected as fair use under copyright law.
The lawsuit was eventually settled out of court for an undisclosed amount of money and a contract that split the profits from future sales of the “Hope” image.
Gary Pruitt, the president and CEO of the AP, said in a statement:
“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. 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.”
The court decided today that during Fairey’s legal battle with the Associated Press he destroyed documents and manufactured evidence. Shepard Fairey was fined $25,000, put on probation for two years, and was sentenced to 300 hours of community service.