With the handing down of the verdict in New York District Court on Friday, renowned street artist, Shepard Fairey closed the book on his legal woes and avoided jail time in his criminal contempt case. The judge did levy a $25,000 fine, ordered Fairey to serve 300 hours of community service and 2 years probation.
The charges stemmed from the artist admit-tingly destroying and manufacturing evidence in his copyright infringement case versus the Associated Press. He deleted emails and doctored images as a means of covering up his claim concerning the inspirational source of the now iconic 2008 Obama HOPE poster. It was AP’s contention that the artist had used their photographer, Mannie Garcia’s image of the then Senator from Illinois, taken at a the National Press Club and thus was liable for copyright violation. Fairey maintained that the use of the picture fell under the protection of fair-use laws.
The matter was settled out of court in 2011, but the complicated fall-out from his tampering with evidence in that civil case left him standing solemnly in court on Friday morning.
In a statement made via his website, Shepard Fairey wrote “My wrong-headed actions, born out of a moment of fear and embarrassment, have not only been financially and psychologically costly to myself and my family, but also helped to obscure what I was fighting for in the first place— the ability of artists everywhere to be inspired and freely create art without reprisal.”