Shepard Fairey Meets Charles Darwin

I have been wondering how long it would take for Shepard Fairey’s Obama and change poster to “inspire” another work. This one is on Darwin and change. If Fairey loses his case against the AP, the AP would surely have no infringement claim against the creator of the Darwin image. If Fairey wins, however, does he have a claim against the creator of the Darwin image–or is it non-infringing parody?

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6 Responses

  1. Bruce Boyden says:

    Seems like Fairey would be able to make a good argument under Steinberg v. Columbia Pictures — his recognizable “style” has been appropriated.

  2. Mikero says:

    According to the wikipedia page for Steinberg v Columbia Pictures, one of the important factors was that the derivative work was not meant to satirize the original. In the case of these Darwin posters, there is a clear satirical intent (especially with the take-off on an Obama slogan). Anyway, I’m not a lawyer, and I probably have a biased view of this situation, since I’m the guy responsible for the Darwin posters 😉

  3. AF says:

    It would be an interesting case. Fairey’s style is significantly less distinctive than Steinberg’s — it’s basically just a generic retro 1930’s-style propaganda poster.

    The reason the poster is recognizable is less the distinctiveness of Fairey’s style and more the ubiquity of the Obama image. It sounds like more of a trademark-type case.

    That said, Fairey has been known in the past to throw stones against clear parodies:

  4. Don says:

    I think it was lacking taste and rather offensive and really do not like to stir up the water. Some things are better left alone

  5. Razt says:

    Shepard Fairey is a liar and a hack. He went on NPR last month ranting about defending all artists right to Fair Use, but he did not not mention to NPR that he just sent a cease and desist letter to an artist days before the interview. He has sent cease and desist letters to five artists in the last two years. Here is info about the most recent, He has sent cease and desist letters to two artists that I know of. So why on earth did he tell NPR that he is fighting the paper for the right of artist using fair use. He is a liar and a fake! Look up Baxter Orr and Larkin Werner and then ask if Shepard Fairey really supports fair use.

  6. razt says:

    Also wanted to say that Shepard Fairey recognizable style is nothing but a bunch of other artists styles combined. There are old posters at my local laundry mat from the 60s that have the same look as some of his work. He is not doing anything new. It is very hard to defend style in a court of law anyways.