Obama ‘Hope’ Poster Designer Facing Criminal Charges

Instead of “Hope,” Shepard Fairey might consider the word “Truth” as inspiration.

The Los Angeles-based street artist, who rose to fame during President Obama’s campaign when he designed the iconic “Hope” image, will face criminal charges as part of an ongoing legal dispute between him and the Associated Press.

According to theLos Angeles Times, a federal judge based in New York City announced during a hearing with both Fairey’s and the AP’s lawyers present that the artist would face a criminal investigation after his admitted misconduct in the case between him and AP.

In February 2009, AP filed a suit against Fairey claiming that he violated copyright laws by using one of their photographs as the basis for the “Hope” image. In response, Fairey fired back with a suit of his own, alleging that he was protected to use the image under fair use laws.

Last October, Fairey released a statement that he submitted false images and deleted others files of images during the course of legal proceedings, according to the LA Times. He tried to conceal the fact that the AP had correctly identified the photo he used as a base for his “Hope” poster while President Barack Obama was then campaigning for the position.

The image catapulted Fairey into fame as an artist. Fairey had cultivated a reputation as a guerilla artist after he put up a series of images around Los Angeles with the words “Obey Giant” listed near a scowling face (of late wrestler/actor Andre the Giant), designed to be similar to images described in George Orwell’s bleak government oppressed future in the novel “1984.”

Fairey has come under fire before for allegedly plagiarizing images in his own art work.

Throughout the case, there has been a question as to which Mannie Garcia photo I used as a reference to design the HOPE image, Fairey said in a statement last October. The AP claimed it was one photo, and I claimed it was another. While I initially believed that the photo I referenced was a different one, I discovered early on in the case that I was wrong. In an attempt to conceal my mistake I submitted false images and deleted other images.

An AP spokesperson told the LA Times that the news association has been subpoenaed to in connection to Fairey’s accused misconduct during legal actions.

Fairey’s defense attorneys declined to comment to the LA Times.

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