04.22.08

faireylawsuit.jpg

I can’t quite figure out if this is legit or not but apparently Shepard Fairey (of Obey Giant fame) is threatening to sue Baxter Orr who is a 26-year-old artist and freelance designer based out of Austin, Texas. You can see his work above. The irony here is that Fairey has been accused blatant plagiarism in the past and the evidence to support this notion is more than damning. Fortunately for Fairey, few of the artists work that he has used in the past have stepped up to protect themselves.

Regardless,  Fairey’s fan-base is strong (I have always been one of them). The question remains however as to whether or not this whole debacle is for real or a 15 minutes of fame attempt by none other than Orr himself. Either way, it raises some interesting questions.

You can read more about the story here and also see how the readers feel about it.

written by Christopher | tags: , , ,

13 Responses to “Shepard Fairey Threatens to Sue”

  1. N Says:

    Aren’t obvious parodies, such as this, protected by law?

  2. Christopher Says:

    Yeah, that’s what I thought as well.

  3. nick Says:

    pot < (black) kettle

  4. Nick Says:

    All politics aside, Fairey’s work will always be spectacular and Orr’s is just wack.

  5. Brian Says:

    “Fairey’s work will always be spectacular” I disagree do you see half the shit he puts out? Does he even design any of his prints anymore, old stuff is good, new stuff is shiiiiiiiit.

  6. alex Says:

    It first should be said that I am not a lawyer. I’m just have dilettante interest in Copyright law.

    Shepard Fairey does have two copyrights (that I found) related to the Obey franchise. The first copyright that is referenced in the cease in desist letter is the ‘Andre the Giant has a posse OG’ from 1989. Considering that he was threatened with a lawsuit for trademark infringement by Titan Sports it seems strange that he would reference this copyright. The second copyright is the ‘Obey icon face’ that he copyrighted in 2004. The ‘Obey icon face’ copyright is where Baxter Orr could have some troubles with his “derived” work.

    In reference to ‘“Pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works”’ that the cease in desist defines the copyrighted work as in ‘Title 17 U.S.C. Section 101′. “Only the owner of copyright in a work has the right to prepare, or to authorize someone else to create, a new version of that work. The owner is generally the author or someone who has obtained rights from the author.”Which is Shepard Fairey.

    Luckily for Baxter Orr there is fair use. Baxter Orr’s work falls under derivative work in copyright law. “A derivative work is an expressive creation that includes major, basic copyrighted aspects of an original, previously created first work”. “Even if a work is found to be an unauthorized derivative, an alleged infringer can escape liability via the defense of fair use”. Fair use is a doctrine in United States copyright law that allows limited use of copyrighted material without requiring permission from the rights holders. “When Tom Forsythe appropriated Barbie dolls for his photography project “Food Chain Barbie,” Mattel lost its claims of copyright and trademark infringement against him because his work effectively parodies Barbie and the values she represents. ^ Mattel, Inc. v. Walking Mountain Productions,”

    Considering the intentions of Baxter Orr was to parody Shepard Fairey’s and the fact that Shepard Fairey references many other artists in the same way Baxter Orr referenced his work I seriously doubt it would hold up in court.

    Sorry for the cut and pastes from the wiki I was getting tired of typing

    References:

    http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/101.html
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derivative_work#Derivative_work_right
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andr%C3%A9_the_Giant_Has_a_Posse#History
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_use#Fair_use_and_parody
    http://www.art-for-a-change.com/Obey/index.htm
    http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ14.html#derivative/

  7. Nolawi Says:

    I kinda disagree, i think he is poking fun at the actual piece. I was recently sued by major company because I tried to make fun of its logo by making an illustration and changing the words. And they sent a letter asking for me to take it off my website. Needless to say, it was about the same thing.

    BTW I am an obama supporter and contributor.

  8. Brad Says:

    Oh Baxter!

  9. alex Says:

    Nolawl,
    Check out the link on fair use and parody. Being sued and a sent a letter are two different things :) .

  10. bryan c Says:

    interesting enough, super touch has posted a response to all this obey plagarism:
    http://www.supertouchart.com/2009/02/02/editorial-the-medium-is-the-message-shepard-fairey-and-the-art-of-appropriation/

  11. SWO ONE Says:

    I see the SuperTouch critique of Mark Vallen’s critique of Shepard Fairey has shown up here. It is only fair to mention Brian Sherwin’s critique of the SuperTouch critique of Vallen. (Lot of critiques going on over Shepard Fairey) Or maybe Shepard Fairey is using pr tactics to fight off criticism just like he used a stealthy campaign by mastermind Yosi Sergant to create the hype that surrounds him now.

    http://www.myartspace.com/blog/2009/02/jamie-oshea-obeys-shepard-fairey-by.html

  12. Anisa Montney Says:

    amazing stuff thanx:)

  13. skull front Says:

    free fairey http://www.zazzle.com/free_fairey_shirt-235164273204935204

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