Thursday, February 12, 2009

Teddy Roosevelt's lesson for Shepard Fairey

A loyal C&C reader passes along this fascinating anecdote from a book about negotiating strategies. The unlikely topic is copyrights and campaigns, and the story is meant to illustrate a point about "creating and claiming value." It could also be taken as a lesson in what Shepard Fairey might have done to avoid legal trouble (if that was ever his goal):

Reprinted from Negotiating and Influencing Skills, by Brad McRae, which in turn credits Environmental Dispute Resolution by Lawrence S. Bacow and Michael Wheeler. I have no idea if this incident actually took place, but it surely falls into the category of "too good to check."


  1. Where would the $1 per pamphlet calculation have come from? Even with today's statutory damages regime, that figure would be absurd. Surely this is apocryphal.

  2. It's a good question, and I have no idea where the $1 figure came from. Part of me agrees with you that this whole story is apocryphal; I'm curious whether it shows up in any of the many TR biographies.

  3. Even if the rest of the story is completely accurate, the $1 figure would always have been a guesstimate--nobody tried to pay to license the photo. It would still be a good anecdote if the amount was $.01 per photo.

  4. From a friend:

    "It WOULD have been interesting to see if Shepard Fairey (and can that really be his name?) could have pulled it off. However, being able to say "I represent the future president of the united states and we are going to use someone's photo of TR on a pamphlet. It will be great publicity. How much will you pay us" seems to have a little more persuasive value than "I am a homeless street artist who likes to tag public buildings. I'm going to use someone's photo in a street portrait of Obama. How much will you pay me to use yours?"


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