Shepard Fairey gets two years’ probation in Obama ‘Hope’ poster case

A 2008 photograph of Los Angeles street artist Shepard Fairey, in front of his mural depicting then Sen. Barack Obama.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Shepard Fairey, the Los Angeles street artist, has received a sentence of two years’ probation and a $25,000 fine in his criminal contempt case involving his “Hope” poster of Barack Obama. The sentence was handed down Friday morning in a New York court.

The sentence included 300 hours of community service. Fairey will not have to serve jail time.

In February, Fairey pleaded guilty to one count of criminal contempt for destroying documents, manufacturing evidence and other misconduct. The artist admitted in 2009 to destroying documents and submitting false images in his legal battle with the Associated Press.


PHOTOS: Shepard Fairey’s art

Fairey’s “Hope” poster of Obama was inspired by a 2006 AP photograph of the former senator. The AP subsequently accused the artist of copyright infringement; Fairey maintained that the use of the photo falls under fair-use laws.

The artist had faced a maximum sentence of six months in prison and a maximum term of supervised release of one year.

Last year, the artist settled his civil case with the AP out of court. Fairey’s “Hope” image has been reproduced extensively in numerous media, including posters, stickers and on apparel.

PHOTOS: Shepard Fairey’s art

[Updated 9:00 a.m.]: In a statement released on Friday, Fairey said that he accepts the judge’s sentencing and is looking forward “to finally putting this episode behind me.”


Fairey said that his actions have been not only “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.”

On Friday, Gary Pruitt, the president and CEO of the AP, said in a statement: “After spending a great amount of time, energy and legal effort, all of us at the Associated Press are glad this matter is finally behind us. We hope this case will serve as a clear reminder to all of the importance of fair compensation for those who gather and produce original news content.”

Throughout his legal troubles, Fairey has maintained an active public schedule. He contributed to the exhibition “Art in the Streets” at the Museum of Contemporary Art in 2011. This year, he put in a vocal guest appearance as himself on Fox’s “The Simpsons” and teamed up with Neil Young to create art for the album “Americana.”


Shepard Fairey admits to wrongdoing in AP lawsuit

Shepard Fairey enters guilty plea in criminal case with AP

Shepard Fairey to settle ‘Hope’ poster case with Associated Press


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