Having the judge declare that "[c]redibility is probably the most significant issue" cannot bode well for Fairey. But the civil copyright case may now be the least of his worries.
A judge permitted the disclosure for the first time Tuesday that the artist known for his Barack Obama "HOPE" image is under criminal investigation, though details of the probe were not divulged.
U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein mentioned the grand jury probe in a handwritten note denying a request by a lawyer for artist Shepard Fairey that a hearing relating to a copyright lawsuit they brought against The Associated Press be closed.
The U.S. Attorney's office had a grand jury begin an investigation after Fairey said he erred about which AP photo he used as the basis for "HOPE" and had submitted false images and deleted other images to conceal his mistake.
Meir Feder, a lawyer for Fairey, asked for secrecy in a letter to the judge, arguing that a public hearing "would risk compromising the confidential nature of the criminal investigation."
At the hearing, which was open to the public, Feder asked for a six-month delay in the civil case. He said Fairey had been instructed by his criminal lawyer to invoke the Fifth Amendment if asked questions at a deposition.
Hellerstein denied the request, noting that "this whole thing's going to be wrapped up by the end of spring."
"Credibility is probably the most significant issue," the judge said. "Credibility is a very important factor and you can't go into credibility without going into the destruction of evidence."
Feder disagreed, saying, "Credibility is not the most important issue."
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
AP: Shepard Fairey under criminal investigation over falsehoods in copyright case
The copyright lawsuit between the Associated Press and Shepard Fairey over the artist's use of an AP photo in his iconic "Obama Hope" poster was interesting enough. But the case now has taken a decidedly strange and ominous turn for Fairey, as it was revealed in court today that a federal grand jury is investigating Fairey over his admitted lies about the photo he copied and the creation and deletion of evidence about which which photo he used. Reports the AP: