Friday, March 13, 2009

The Hypocrisy of the Associated Press

Reflecting on:


The Associated Press has irrevocably embarassed itself with its needless and unwarranted attempts to "protect" its "intellectual property" by filing a counter suit against artist Shepard Fairey. First, the allegedly "infringing" image of Barack Obama is isolated by AP and is taken out of its original context -- words such as "HOPE" and "PROGRESS" are included in Fairey's politcal imagery of Barack Obama. Furthermore, the Associated Press ignores the glaring fact that Shepard Fairey's images, allegedly derived from an AP photograph, are unique art works. They are unequivocally divergent from the original AP photo in color, form and presentation. Furthermore, the cultural, political and artistic activity of Shepard Fairey to create and disseminate these works has had enormously more cultural significance than that of the Associated Press photo in question.

The assertation that the Associated Press owns Shepard Fairey's work, and that Fairey's images infringe upon Associated Press ownership rights rely on the belief (and legal acceptance of it) that photographic perspective is in fact ownable. What is hypocritical about this stance is that without this very perspective, Barack Obama himself would be the owner and arbiter of this image. Furthermore, if Shepard Fairey did in fact utitilze an Associated Press photograph to create his images, the new resulting art work enjoys an equivalent latitude for ownership that the "original" Associated Press photo is assumed to enjoy: Shepard Fairey is providing a new aesthetic perspective and context for an Associated Press perspective. What right does the AP have to dictate the boundaries of perspective, when their photographers have carte blanche to provide it themselves? Shepard Fairey has created, perhaps from a photograph, a work not only vibrant, unique and new, but successfully resonant to millions of Americans.

Again, the cultural resonance of the Shepard Fairey work clearly speaks to the fact that the Associated Press simply owns a photograph and Shepard Fairey has created an original and new work of art. The Associated Press, intoxicated by its greed, is trying to steal an American cultural artifact from its creator, and from the nation that acknowledged it and brought it to your attention. Shame on your pettiness. Shame on your lack of respect. Shame on your philistine hypocrisy. Shame on your contempt for America.

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