Dewey Defeats Truman; AP Hopes to Defeat 1st Amendment

We noted recently Fox News‘ peculiar understanding of the Fair Use doctrine, which allows writers, artists and others to make reasonable use of copyrighted material so long as they don’t infringe on the copyright owners’ commercial rights; Fox interprets this to mean that critics should only be allowed to make use of Fox video if Fox is allowed to sell ads to run alongside the criticism.

Now another corporate media company is making strange claims against Fair Use. The Associated Press is claiming that the well-known “HOPE” poster of Barack Obama violates its copyright, because artist Shepard Fairey used an AP photo as a model for the image.

Here’s a question for AP: If a cartoonist wanted to make reference to the famous “Dewey Defeats Truman” image–which is also a copyrighted AP photo–would they have to get your permission first? That’s the implication of their claim about the Obama image. And the end result would be a world where artists can’t talk about the images of our political leaders, because those images come to us via for-profit media–a strange position for a democracy to find itself in.

About Jim Naureckas

Extra! Magazine Editor Since 1990, Jim Naureckas has been the editor of Extra!, FAIR's monthly journal of media criticism. He is the co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error, and co-editor of The FAIR Reader: An Extra! Review of Press and Politics in the '90s. He is also the co-manager of FAIR's website. He has worked as an investigative reporter for the newspaper In These Times, where he covered the Iran-Contra scandal, and was managing editor of the Washington Report on the Hemisphere, a newsletter on Latin America. Jim was born in Libertyville, Illinois, in 1964, and graduated from Stanford University in 1985 with a bachelor's degree in political science. Since 1997 he has been married to Janine Jackson, FAIR's program director. You can follow Jim on Twitter at @JNaureckas.