Aspiring artists, and really, anyone: Here’s a lesson to be learned from Shepard Fairey, creator of the famous “Hope” image that blanketed President Obama’s election campaign in 2008. Don’t fabricate or destroy evidence related to a case, no matter how much you think you can get away with it. It’s simply just not a good idea. To sum up, Fairey sued the Associated Press a few years ago after they objected to him using a copyrighted image for his famous graphic, asserting his fair use rights. But after admittedly tampering with the evidence to point the judgment in his favor, his attorneys abandoned him, as did any hope of getting out of this alive. (All hope-related puns actually not intended.) He ended up settling with the AP in early 2011 and ended up paying more than $1.6 million, but there’s further insult to injury: He might be looking at six months in prison, and the Obama administration recommended to the judge that he serve it. Part of their statement, as follows:
“A sentence without any term of imprisonment sends a terrible message to those who might commit the same sort of criminal conduct in which the defendant engaged. The message sent by a sentence without any term of imprisonment is that, if a party who engages in spoliation and fabrication of evidence does not get caught, it unfairly gains. And, if it does get caught, then it will merely be required to remediate the effects of its conduct with no marginal sanction.”
Translation: You fucked up, dude, and you might’ve won your initial argument if you hadn’t tried to game the system. It’s got to be fairly harsh when the guy you helped get big recommends that you pay the time after doing the crime, but Obama’s really got no choice. Can’t you just see this ending up as a talking point on Fox News were he ask for some leniency? “Crony capitalist president perverts justice for liberal artist pal.” What a nightmare that would be.