The news agency Associated Press (AP) is reportedly targeting a number of US retailers including Nordstrom and Urban Outfitters in a copyright infringement lawsuit involving an iconic image of President Barack Obama.
AP alleges that a photograph of Obama, one that became an iconic part of his presidential campaign, has been unlawfully used in a pop-art design called ‘HOPE’ by artist Shephard Fairey.
AP has already settled a copyright infringement lawsuit over the issue with Fairey, but is now going after the retailers that sell clothes featuring the design. The news agency owns the copyright to the image, taken in 2006, and accuses the designer and the retailers selling the designs of “blatant” and “wilful” misuse of it.
The retailers targeted in the lawsuit include Zumiez, Urban Outfitters and Nordstrom, all of whom will need to rely on their professional indemnity insurance should they lose the case, as AP is suing for unspecified but presumably substantial damages.
Associated Press spokesperson Paul Colford explained the agency’s motivation behind filing the lawsuit, saying:
“When a commercial entity such as these retailers, or the company that sold the shirts to them, gets something for nothing by using an AP photo without credit or compensation, it undermines the AP’s ability to cover the news and devalues the work that our journalists do, often in dangerous locations where they may literally risk life and limb to cover a story.”