The artist Shepard Fairey was sentenced to two years probation on Friday in connection to the legal battle spawned by his iconic “Hope” poster of President Barack Obama.
A federal judge in Manhattan also ordered Fairey, 42, to pay a $25,000 fine.
Fairey created the now-famous “Hope” poster in early 2008, when then-Senator Obama was running for President. He based the image on an Associated Press photograph from 2006. The AP held that Fairey had violated its copyright on the image.
In 2009, Fairey sued the AP, seeking a declaration that his use of the AP’s photograph constituted “fair use” of the copyrighted image. In the case, Fairey tried to argue that he had used a different photograph as a reference than the one the AP claimed. But his claim was untrue, and Fairey later admitted that he had created false documents and destroyed others in an attempt to back up his case.
In February, Fairey pleaded guilty to committing criminal contempt of court in connection to the copyright battle. In a statement posted on his website on Friday, Fairey said he had “let down artists and advocates for artist’s rights” by distracting from the debate over “fair use.”
“I accept full responsibility for violating the Court’s trust by tampering with evidence during my civil case with the Associated Press, which, after my admitting to engaging in this conduct, led to this criminal case by the Southern District of New York,” Fairey said. “I accept the Judge’s sentence and look forward to finally putting this episode behind me. 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.”
Fairey and the AP settled their civil lawsuit out of court in early 2011.
Eric Lach is a reporter for TPM. From 2010 to 2011, he was a news writer in charge of the website’s front page. He has previously written for The Daily, NewYorker.com, GlobalPost and other publications. He can be reached at ericl(at)talkingpointsmemo.com