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Shepard Fairey faces prison over Obama "Hope" poster

Published time: March 08, 2012 18:31
Edited time: March 08, 2012 22:31
Obama "Hope"

Obama "Hope"

American street artist Shepard Fairey became recognized worldwide for his iconic “Hope” poster during Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. Four years down the road though, the graphic artist is left gripping with the possibility of prison time.

Fairey, 42, will soon face sentencing for breaking the law during and after the development of the design that was parlayed into a promo poster for US President Barack Obama’s first attempt at an Oval Office bid. The artist has already been in and out of court over the legality of the image he doctored to design his final project, but as Obama campaigns towards a second term in the White House, Fairey finds himself braving for a stint in the big house.

Not only did Fairey fib about how he acquired the photo of the president, but the artist has now admitted to going to great lengths to cover his tracks. Fairey had previously settled with the Associated Press out of court over allegations of copyright infringement involving his use of an AP photo, but now a federal suit has the artist apologizing for tampering with evidence.

Fairey’s first admittance was an acknowledgment that he had lied about the image he acquired to develop the Obama poster. The AP had charged that Fairey had manipulated an image without permission, an allegation which prompted the artist to respond with a now-known lie that he actually was inspired by a similar but slightly different shot — one he argued was protected under Fair Use law. Fairey would later acknowledge that he made false statements and lied about the source of his image, settling all charges with the AP outside of court. Now, however, the government is seeking jail time for Fairey over his efforts in concealing that corruption.

Authorities attest that not only did Fairey lie about which AP image he used in developing his poster, but that the artist falsified other claims in order to support his own. In a recent statement filed by the US government, the country contests 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.” Those are the charges lobbed by US Attorney Preet Bharara, who is seeking a prison sentence for Fairey for not the unauthorized use of an image, but his tampering of the evidence.

“I was ashamed that I had done these things, and I knew I should have corrected my actions,” Fairey told witnesses in Federal District Court in Manhattan last week.

Fairey pleaded to one count of criminal contempt and could land upwards of six months in prison, pending sentencing. He will be back in court this July to hear the decided term.

Associated Press Chief Executive Tom Curley issued a statement in regards to Fairey coming forth, wishing that “some good may come of this, by alerting judges and parties to the possibility that fake evidence may exist.”

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