AP's source photograph and Obama Hope by Shepard Fairey

Shepard Fairey admits lying about Obama poster

American street artist gets $25,000 fine and probation for false claims about adaption of infamous Obama image

US street artist Shepard Fairey, perhaps following the advice of his famous Andre the Giant poster, has chosen to OBEY the Southern District of New York's criminal court rulings, after he was sentenced to two years probation and a $25,000 fine last Friday for tampering with evidence. Fairey pleaded guilty to the charges, stemming from his 2009 civil case against the Associated Press.

The civil case centered on which photograph Fairey had used as source material for his infamous unofficial 2008 Obama campaign poster. Fairey argued it was a 2006 image; The Associated Press successfully asserted that Fairey had actually based the image on a 2007 photograph from their archive, and won the right to profits from the sale of Hope images.


Obey - Shepard Fairey
Obey - Shepard Fairey

However, criminal proceedings began when it transpired that Fairey lied in the earlier case, destroyed documents and submitted false images. In a statement published following the proceedings, the artist said that he 'accepted full responsibility for violating the Court's trust by tampering with evidence during my civil case with the Associated Press,' before going onto argue that he still believed he had a strong Fair Use case.

"The decision today will, I hope, mark an ending to what, for me, has been a deeply regrettable chapter," Fairey explained. "But the larger principles at stake-Fair Use and Artists' Freedom-are still in jeopardy, and I hope we will remain vigilant in depending on the Freedom of Expression. My wrong-headed actions, born out of a moment of fear and embarrassment, have not only been financially  and psychologically costly to myself and my family, but also helped to obscure what I was fighting for in the first place — the ability of artists everywhere to be inspired and freely create art without reprisal.”