Case Study: Shepard Fairey Avoids Jail Time in Fair Use Trail

Artist Shepard Fairey was sentenced to two years probation, a $25,000 fine and 300 community service hours at the conclusion of his court case with the Associated Press. Charged with tampering with evidence, Fairey had been embroiled in a Fair Use-centred trial with AP for the past few years over his 2008 Obama ‘Hope’ poster being based off of a wrongly credited image.

Although pleased that he managed to avoid jail time, Fairey is dismayed by his own actions. In a statement on his website, he conceded that he had “let down artists and advocates for artist’s rights by distracting from the core Fair Use discussion with my misdeeds.” This trial raises a number of significant ethical questions regarding intellectual and artistic property in the digital age.