Monday, August 23, 2010

Court sets trial date in Shepard Fairey case; Mannie Garcia drops out

The judge refereeing the dispute between the AP and artist Shepard Fairey over the "Obama Hope" poster has set a trial date of March 21, 2011. Of course, it's not certain there will actually be a trial; I expect one or both sides to seek summary judgment, and settlement is always a possibility.

Also, last Friday the AP and Mannie Garcia, the photographer who took the photo that served as the basis for Fairey's poster, voluntarily dismissed their claims and counterclaims. The two sides disputed whether the AP or Garcia owned the copyright in the photo. A source tells me that there was no "settlement," which suggests that Garcia simply dropped his claim. I have an inquiry in to his attorney and will update this post if I get additional information.

Update: The AP has released the following statement:

The Associated Press is very pleased that Mannie Garcia has withdrawn from the case with prejudice, meaning that he cannot refile his claim against the AP. The AP has not wavered in its belief that Mr. Garcia was a staff photographer at the time he took the image of then-Sen. Barack Obama, that AP properly employed Mr. Garcia, and that AP is the rightful copyright owner of the photo in question. Further, the AP is pleased that Mr. Garcia voluntarily withdrew without any payment or consideration of any kind -- this was not a settlement.

In a Court hearing on Monday, Judge Alvin Hellerstein indicated that he would sign the stipulation and enter the order. Also in Monday’s hearing, the judge set both a summary judgment schedule and a trial schedule for the case involving Shepard Fairey. The AP is happy to have these dates set. The AP continues to be confident in its position that the use Mr. Fairey made of its photo is not fair use, but one that should have been licensed so as to help ensure the AP's photographers will be able to continue creating new works. The AP looks forward to resolution whether through summary judgment or trial on the merits.

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