Tuesday, April 6, 2010

AP wins discovery rulings in Shepard Fairey case, hires UCLA's Doug Lichtman

The Associated Press has won a significant discovery battle in its case against artist Shepard Fairey, as the judge in the parties' copyright dispute has ordered Fairey to hand over information and documents related to his admitted falsehoods and destruction of evidence. In an order issued yesterday, Judge Alvin Hellerstein said that Fairey must "disclose the identities of those who performed these acts, of those who commanded and supervised these acts, and of those who were told of these acts," referring to "those who did the deletion and destruction, and of those who knew about such deletion and destruction" of evidence in the case. As previously reported, a federal grand jury is investigating Fairey for perjury and evidence tampering following his admission that he lied about which AP photo he used as the basis for his "Obama Hope" poster, and then created and destroyed evidence to cover his tracks. The court also ordered Fairey to hand over financial information, concluding that "Plaintiffs’ excuses for not producing all aspects of their financial records are frivolous." Here's the AP's own story on the discovery ruling.

In other news in the Fairey case, the AP has added some academic heft to its legal team, bringing on UCLA law professor Doug Lichtman as one of its attorneys of record (Dale Cendali of Kirkland & Ellis remains its lead counsel). Lichtman actually moderated a discussion about the Fairey case last year as part of his "IP Colloquium" podcast. Fairey is represented by Harvard Law School's Terry Fisher and a Jones Day team led by Geoffrey Stewart.

Under the court's schedule, summary judgment motions on the main liability issues in the case are due July 26, 2010. Dispositive motions on photographer Mannie Garcia's claim that he -- not the AP -- actually owns the copyright in the photo that Fairey used are due May 3.

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