Obama 'Hope' Creator Cops to Keeping Evidence in AP Copyright Fight

  @DanRivoli on February 24 2012 3:06 PM

Shepard Fairey, who created the iconic “Hope” picture of Barack Obama during the 2008 Democratic primary, has copped to destroying documents and cooking evidence in his 2009 lawsuit against The Associated Press over his work.

Fairey and newswire had been in a copyright row over the Obama images because he used an AP photograph.

He had filed a lawsuit seeking a court order declaring that his image was fair use of an AP photograph. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in Manhattan said Friday he “went to extreme lengths to obtain and unfair and illegal advantage in his civil litigation.”

According to prosecutors, Fairey said in his complaint that he took an AP image of Obama and George Clooney at a 2006 event. The actual AP picture was taken from the same event, but was a closely-cropped image Obama gazing up.

To cover up the error, prosecutors said Fairey -- a 42-year-old Los Angeles-based street artist known for his “OBEY” and “Andre the Giant has a Posse” images -- created documents and deleted evidence that showed he knew which AP photo he used for his Obama images.

Prosecutors also accused Fairey of creating and then backdating a document-retention policy for his company, Obey Giant, when the AP complained he failed to produce any evidence during the discovery process.

Fairey pled guilty to one count of criminal contempt for his document destruction and evidence manufacturing. He will be sentenced July 16 and faces a $5,000 fine and a six-month prison sentence.

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