Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Revelations that Fairey lied about stealing an AP photo to make his famous Obama poster are disturbing, especially since he sued the Associated Press seeking a declaratory judgment that he was entitled to use the image under the "fair use" doctrine of copyright law.
It is not fair.
This poster was symbolic of a monumental struggle for many Americans, including myself. I remember the summer evening we were having dinner and interrupted by a knock at the door. A man bearing the poster as a gift was outside. He had driven past our house where various campaign signs were hung before the Beach to Beacon road race in August of 2008 when 5000 people were expected to run by. This man offered the poster as a gift to us to be hung in solidarity.
I was a Hillary Clinton delegate from Maine at the time getting ready for the Denver convention, where Barack Obama was expected to win the nomination. My town had overwhelmingly supported Obama. My kids were on the fence, so to speak. They knew how passionate I was about Hillary but were excited by Obama.
I thanked the man. My husband put the poster in a frame and hung it on our fence. It was a transformational moment for me. I felt part of the movement.
The poster remained prominently displayed in our kitchen for the remainder of the election season. I went off to Denver and returned wearing an Obama t-shirt and handing out the Shepard Fairey posters. My family cheered and cried when Barack Obama was elected and the poster now hangs on my 14 year-old son's wall.
Shepard Fairey created an icon and generously gave it to the world to use without restriction. For that we can be grateful.
The good Shepard went bad when he lied, transforming hope in to another golden calf. For that we are very sad.