In yet another example of government run amok … Federal prosecutors are trying to lock Shepard Fairey, the artist who created the iconic Obama "HOPE" image, in a cage.
Federal prosecutors want Shepard Fairey, the artist who created the Barack Obama "Hope" poster, to serve time in prison following his misdemeanor conviction for destroying and fabricating documents in connection with a civil lawsuit over the iconic campaign image.
[T]he Department of Justice has filed a memorandum arguing that a prison term for the 42-year-old artist would be "appropriate."
Additionally, government lawyers have contended that Judge Frank Maas could fine Fairey up to $3.2 million.
"A sentence without any term of imprisonment sends a terrible message to those who might commit the same sort of criminal conduct," wrote prosecutor Daniel Levy … "Encouraging parties to game the civil litigation system … creates terrible incentives and subverts the truth-finding function of civil litigation."
[Fairey] has admitted destroying electronic records and creating fake documents in an effort to thwart a copyright lawsuit brought by the Associated Press, which contended that Fairey had based the "Hope" image on a photo taken by an AP lensman.
Sure, destroying records and fabricating new ones was incredibly stupid on Fairey's part. Especially when there was no good reason for him to do so in the first place. But, so what? Fairey came clean. It had no bearing on the case anyway. What's been missing all along in this kerfuffle is, of course, any credible evidence whatsoever proving the AP was actually "harmed."
For more than a year, nobody even knew (including the AP) the "Hope" poster was based on a random photo Fairey found via Google images. It wasn't until a Philadelphia Inquirer photojournalist, Tom Gralish, "spent considerable time" tracking it down that anyone had a clue. Yet if the AP had actually been "harmed" during this time period, wouldn't they have noticed themselves?
Mannie Garcia, who shot the original photo, certainly didn't feel harmed. In fact he was "proud his photo is the basis of the painting that now hangs in the National Portrait Gallery, a part of the Smithsonian Institution, in Washington, DC." So what's really going on here?
Like OMG … He made money!
Levy stated that Fairey reaped significant reputational and financial benefits from the Obama "Hope" image, which was created in early-2008. The prosecutor specifically cited the escalating combined profits of three Fairey companies, which grossed $2.93 million in 2007, $4.59 million in 2008, and $6.08 million in 2009.
That's right folks, the AP was simply looking to cash in! They even "filed lawsuits against Urban Outfitters, Nordstrom and Zumiez seeking unspecified damages." Apparently seeing dollar signs dancing in his head, Mannie Garcia changed his tune, deciding to get in on the action too.
Lost in this vast fog of greed, is the undeniable fact that there was/is nothing particularly interesting (let alone iconic) about the original photo. It was Fairey's transformative work that made it so. Which is why nobody noticed the similarity until an unrelated photojournalist chased it down. Besides, how in the hell can the image, any image for that matter, of a politician be "owned?"
What about the Department of Justice? Why are they pursuing Fairey?
The other funny thing is, nobody benefited more from the image than the Obama campaign. Yet it's Obama's DOJ that's trying to lock Fairey up in a cage. Talk about misplaced trust in, and admiration for, politicians. Not to mention Fairey's bad karma. Will people ever learn?