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Obama Artist Shepard Fairey Sentenced in Court

Fairey got a two-year probation and was fined $25,000 for contempt of court in connection with his stylized images of Obama during the 2008 campaign.

Artist Shepard Fairey won’t likely be chanting President Obama’s slogan for “hope and change,” after he was sentenced Friday to two years of probation and fined $25,000 for his use of Obama’s image in posters and T-shirts. The 42-year-old artist had committed criminal contempt of court in connection with a lawsuit he filed against the Associated Press three years ago.

In early 2008, to support the candidacy of then-Sen. Obama, Fairey created works of art that included stylized versions of Obama with the words “Hope” and “Progress” below the image. That image had been copyrighted by the Associated Press, and in 2009, the artist sued the AP, seeking a declaration that his works did not infringe on the news agency’s copyrights.

In that lawsuit, Fairey, 42, claimed that he used an AP image that was taken of Obama at a National Press Club event with George Clooney in 2006. Those statements were discovered to be false. He used a different AP image that had he cropped.

In order to cover that up, Fairey “created multiple false and fraudulent documents that attempted to show he had used the photograph of then-Senator Obama with George Clooney in it as his reference,” according to the U.S. attorney for New York’s Southern District.

Fairey also tried to delete several e-mails demonstrating that he used the cropped image. During the course of the litigation, the AP had produced the doctored documents during discovery. Once that had been uncovered, Fairey plead guilty, and was sentenced to probation and fined by U.S. Magistrate Judge Frank Maas.