SHEPARD FAIREY STATES THAT HE WILL OBEY
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Last week the world of graffiti (and plagiarism, contempt) was reintroduced to the cold slap of the law when street artist/entreprenuer Shepard Fairey chose to plead guilty to a charge of contempt of federal court instead of, oh, maybe going to the big house for an unpleasant stretch. This ain't no sticker crap, this ain't no plagiarism, this ain't no fuckin' around.
"Violating the court's trust was the worst thing I have ever done in my life," Fairey stated. "I was ashamed as I did all these things, and I remain ashamed." Ashamed as you did them, really? Are you sure you didn't just think you were too famous and slick to get nailed?
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara (by the way, this guy's no bullshit, most days his team is sending Al Qaeda terrorists and pirates up the river, seriously, pirates!) said in a statement Friday that Fairey "went to extreme lengths to obtain an unfair and illegal advantage in his civil litigation, creating fake documents and destroying others in an effort to subvert the civil discovery process." Subverter, you!
Assistant US Attorney Daniel Levy told Judge Maas that the US would ask for “some term of imprisonment.” Ouch, we're not even going to try to be clever about this one.
This case, and the circumstances that led to Fairy's guilty plea is truly convoluted and interesting. It clearly raises then totally blurs issues of creativity and "borrowing" of content in this modern world, subversion of authority, copyright, fraud, evidence and witness tampering, and document forgery by a respected graphic artist. If only someone would turn up dead we would have a Law and Order episode on our hands.
But before the subpoenas start flying we at NYD would like to mention a few things. First — for the benefit of Shepard and his supporters; Fairey's work really is beautiful and resonant, and all graphic-istas respect his innovation and accomplishment, and we here at NYD wish him good luck with this situation. Second — for the benefit of all graffitists and street artists; let's all be careful about this stuff, and if you plan on getting world famous be willing to share a bit of the wealth and don't try to scam the federal attorney's office. And third — for the benefit of NYD; we would like to mention a few things regarding why we should not be sued or brought into federal court for using a somewhat "appropriated graphic" to lend visual appeal to this article.
The above graphic is a parody intended to illustrate the content of this article and in no way is attempting to present itself as a wholly original artistic creation. We assume (but cannot prove) that the copyright for the general appearance of the above graphic resides with Shepard Fairey the creator of the original graphic publicly known as "Obey the Giant." We at NYD respectfully request that the legal team working on behalf of "Obey the Giant" be fair about our use of this moderately original creation and not sue us and fabricate documents to accomplish whatever weird thing they might be trying to accomplish.
We further assume (but cannot prove) that the true credit for the "sans serif bold italic on red band" portion of the graphic as a known element of popular culture is the creation of Barbara Kruger. Additionally we assume that the basic look "black and white cropped face photo with stark graphics consisting of red bands with white type" is also a cultural artifact originally popularized by Kruger. We at NYD respectfully request that the legal team working on behalf of Barbra Kruger not sue us on a charge of secondary theft, or something.
The "Fairey face graphic" contained in the above graphic is based on an illustration by Rob Dobi, which we assume (but cannot prove) is based on a photo by a "human photographer" unknown to us. The illustration was seen, copied, heavily modified and reconceptualized by the team at NYD. NYD offers to pay a royalty (not to exceed 5% of the net profits earned by NYD) made by the selling merchandise showing the above graphic (which almost without doubt will never happen) to the holder of the copyright to the Rob Dobi image and to the holder of the copyright of the original photo, if one exists. We at NYD respectfully request that the legal team working on behalf of Rob Dobi and the unknown "human photographer" not sue us on a charge of some sort of plagiarism, loss of income, or whatever.
For more information on this case please take a look at the Associated Press story (picked up by USA Today, full disclosure please!) Fairey, Simpsons, and Banksy-esque! Wow! Another take on recent Fairey developments is available at The Washington Post. Lastly, in case you are interested in the views of someone who is not too impressed with the artist in question, take a look at the website Art for a Change (gotta keep it fair-and-balanced, or at least interesting, and the lefty graphics are really nice!)