Sometimes a lawsuit is just a lawsuit.
But sometimes it is a soap opera. Sometimes, a lawsuit is an attempt to shape the laws, an attempt to get the public to wake up and take sides. And sometimes there is a cliff hanging twist and turn every time you think it is safe to turn off the internet. Fairey v. Associated Press, is all of the above, and the case has all of the elements of a good drama (except sex): politics, money, theft, lies, and art.
In the latest twist, Fairey has admitted that he falsified evidence and attempted to destroy other evidence. AP has also issued a statement, stating that the Fairey’s lawyers are attempting to withdraw from representation of Fairey. To them, I say: “what did you expect from a thief.”
Bad news for the copyleft- their “poster-child” for fair use has almost certainly ruined his case. There is nothing like lying to the court and violating discovery to remove all sympathy a judge might have for your case. Furthermore, he could be sanctioned to the point that he looses his primary defense. No matter what happens, he looks very guilty.
On Another Note:
When researching this news, I noticed an interesting article from the EFF that explains how as a part of the countersuit, the AP is also making a claim under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act for stripping the metadata from the photograph (see item 137 and 182 of the counterclaim document). I was not aware of this, but this will be another interesting element of the case to follow closely if this does not settle. Removing metadata is a violation of the DMCA. And yet nearly every newspaper website in America removes metadata from photos that it publishes. I have long criticized this practice- it creates orphans. But if AP wins on the issue of removing the metadata, media lawyers will have to wake up about the practices of news organizations relating to preserving metadata.
On Yet Another Note:
As I mentioned, this case has many twists and turns. Few legal posts I have seen evaluate the Mannie Garcia claim that he is the rightful copyright holder of the photograph. Here is one great article about it, though.
I have chart on work for hire that I created earlier this year. Without knowing more facts about Garcia and his arrangement with AP, it is hard to work through it, but you might find it useful.
Interesting Related Documents: