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Entries in copyright (3)



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Last week the long saga of copyright infringement and evidence tampering regarding Shepard Fairey's iconic "HOPE" poster ended in federal court with Fairey receiving two years of probation and a $25,000 fine. If government prosecutors had gotten their way Fairey would of received a six month prison sentence and risked being exposed to some nasty "fair use" in the federal hoosgow.

The "HOPE" saga is a very interesting and informative case in the emerging canon of modern copyright law but it's important to note that this thing really hit the fan for Fairey because of evidence tampering, the Feds seriously hate that shit.

Reappropriation, copyright theft, forgery and evidence tampering, whatever - we here at NYD feel that Fairey's real crime was making possible the ongoing plague of crappy HOPE parodies! Mr. Fairey - J'accuse! 

For more info on this amazing case take a look at The Huffington Post, their article also references some other fair use issues in the arts,  "Shepard Fairey Sentenced To Probation For Destroying Evidence Involved With AP Civil Case"

 The New York Times also gives a good recap of the case in "Shepard Fairey Is Fined and Sentenced to Probation in ‘Hope’ Poster Case"

The Fairey conviction was also coverd here at NYD, plus check out the cool/cruel custom "Obey" graphic.

And if you must make your own Hope parody poster image feel free to visit the automated Hope-a-tron at Paste magazine. Shame on you!




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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!)



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Last week the energetic poster defacer known as "Moustache Man" was arrested by officers of the NYPD. The inscriber of the ubiquitous swirly tag "moustache" that lately has adorned countless upper lips on advertising posters is now known as "Joseph Waldo, perp." Moustache Man is sadly in the same art/speech/legal purgatory that the much noticed then quickly arrested Poster Boy recently visited. Keep your head down Dick Chicken, the state security apparatus has its eye on you.

Gothamist reports that under pressure from authorities Waldo clearly stated his new position in relation to street art and unsanctioned anti-hype speech; "I'm sorry for my actions and have agreed to fully cooperate and never do it again." Very reasonable under the circumstances, sir.

Moustaching is not a very dickish defacement, but New York Dick is always interested in poster modifications that attempt to reclaim part of the visual culture. So even if drawing a silly stache isn't really as shocking and dicky as poking a penis doodle in someones eye, NYD seeks to document anything that is enough of an affront to make you stop and think, or get you arrested.

Whether spelled moustache or mustache (not the concern of NYD) or not spelled out at all, lip hair defacements are very common in the NYC subway system. As Marcel Duchamp showed us when he dickishly defaced a post card of the Mona Lisa, lip hair supplied against ones will is a great way to steal somethings mojo. 

Moustache Man will probably not be doing many more defacements in the New York subway system, but NYD is positive that thousands of New York's dickish denizens will continue to make graphic counter statements to ad culture. Penises, mustaches, beards, zombie eyes, devil horns, busted teeth; all seem like proper visual comments to make on an advertising poster that is just a little too much in your face. But be careful New York, don't make a spectacle of yourself, be ready to run, and if caught be really ready to apologize.