Shepard Fairey, 42, who became a celebrity in the world of media and advertisement overnight after creating the red, white and blue image of Obama silhouetted above the word “Hope” in the famous 2008 campaign poster, was sentenced to community service on Friday.
The sentencing was in relation of his creation of the poster and the fact that he had lied about the image he had used to create it. Apparently, the image used in the poster was owned by Associated Press, and was taken by AP photographer Mannie Garcia in April 2006 when Obama was still a U.S. senator from Illinois.
Fairey, who pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of criminal contempt in February for tampering with and destroying evidence after he realized the photograph he had used for the poster belonged to Associated Press, seemed to have tripped up over his own machinations.
Following the now popular pre-emptive strike method in international and domestic politics, Fairey had sued AP in 2009 pre-emptively, seeking a declaratory injunction to the effect that his work was protected from potential claims of AP over copyright infringement. After gaining knowledge of the matter from the preemptive suit, AP countersued for copyright infringement.
Discovery led to evidence of improper deletion of records by Fairey and he was compelled to admit that he had intentionally lied about the identity of the photograph upon which he had based his “Hope.” Fairey was charged for deleting and altering files in violation of an order by the federal judge who was overseeing the civil dispute with AP.
In January last year, AP and Fairey had settled their copyright dispute, and on Friday, AP issued a statement saying it was “glad this matter is finally behind us.”
However, in the criminal hearing at the Manhattan federal court, Fairey confessed and said, “I’d like to apologize for violating the court’s trust, which was the worst thing I’ve ever done in my life.” At the same time, on Thursday, in another part of the country, Obama accepted the Democratic Party’s nomination for re-election.
While prosecutors sought prison time, the court deliberated on the matter and ultimately sentenced Fairey to 300 hours of community service.