LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A Southland graphic designer credited with creating the iconic “Hope” poster that became the face of President Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign pleaded guilty on Friday to a federal contempt charge linked to a lawsuit over the image.
Shepard Fairey, 42, admitted in 2009 to destroying electronic records and fabricating documents in a legal dispute with the Associated Press over the original source of the image.
Attorneys accused Fairey of taking an image snapped by AP photographers and reusing it without consent for the ubiquitous poster, a charge that Fairey denied by claiming only to have used the photo in question as a “reference”.
He even presented jurors with another image from 2006 with Obama and actor George Clooney, which he claimed was the actual source of the poster.
Fairey — who reportedly earned over $3 million in copyright fees for the “Hope” image — had sought to bolster his argument that his use of the image was protected under the “fair use” doctrine.
According to misdemeanor information filed on Friday filed in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, Fairey then “attempted to delete multiple electronically stored documents” that showed he had indeed used the AP photograph as the source for the image of President Obama.
He faces up to six months in jail and fines of up to $5,000 for the misdemeanor when he is sentenced in July.