Sheppard Fairey, the street artist who is best known for his iconic Obama Hope poster sued the Associated Press last Monday. He wants the a judge to find that his use of an AP photo as a base for artwork did not break copyright law.

The lawsuit Monday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan said Los Angeles street artist Shepard Fairey did not violate the copyright of the April 2006 photograph because he dramatically changed the nature of the image. 

The AP has said it is owed credit and compensation for the artist’s rendition of the picture, taken by Mannie Garcia on assignment for the AP at the National Press Club in Washington. 

Fairey has acknowledged that he did indeed use the image in question but his lawyers argue that the work done to the image by Fairey changed the image substantially.

The AP has not taken legal action against Fairey. But the lawsuit noted that the AP had threatened twice to sue Fairey, possibly as early as Tuesday, and that it considered all works that incorporate the imagery of the “Obama Hope” poster to be infringements of its copyrights. 

The lawsuit said the purpose of the photograph documented the day’s events while Fairey’s art, titled “Obama Progress” and “Obama Hope,” was meant “to inspire, convince and convey the power of Obama’s ideals, as well as his potential as a leader, through graphic metaphor.” 

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