Can You Trust AP Reporting On Its Own Lawsuit With Shepard Fairey?

from the fact-checking? dept

Earlier this week, we wrote about the incredibly dumb move by Shepard Fairey to lie and destroy evidence. The whole thing was just ridiculous -- though the Associated Press has been playing it up as if it's proof that its position on the lawsuit between the two has been vindicated. Of course, nothing is further from the truth. While it is incredibly stupid, it doesn't change the fair use questions at issue. But, if we're going to talk credibility, shouldn't the Associated Press be careful to actually fact check its own articles on a case involving itself? In announcing the news about the Fairey revelation, the AP claimed that Fairey's lawyers had withdrawn from the case. However, his lawyers say that's simply not true, though they may withdraw from the case.

What's really amazing, is the AP's response when this was brought to their attention:
A spokesman for the Associated Press said today that there were "numerous versions and updates" to the breaking news over the weekend and that he was not sure if the Associated Press had run a clarification or correction.
Sure it was "breaking news," but it involved the AP itself. You would think they would fact check the basics.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), Oct 20th, 2009 @ 9:57pm

    Facts=Our Viewpoint

    The only fact checking any news organization does these days is does it support their viewpoint. Yes! Check!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Paperboy, Oct 21st, 2009 @ 5:23am

    This just in

    It was news about the AP being broken

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2009 @ 5:36am

    Can you trust Techdirt to tell the truth? After all Mike, you admitted to having the story on friday and sitting on it until Monday. Hmmm.

    Which brings up that good question. The internet doesn't work only 5 days a week. Why no weekend staff? ;)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    Paul Colford, Oct 21st, 2009 @ 8:02am

    Checking the facts

    I'm not sure why Techdirt would choose on Tuesday to overlook Tuesday's development in the AP/Fairey case (http://bit.ly/17rmiF) and instead focus on last weekend.

    However, as weekend stories from the AP, The New York Times and other news organizations made clear, Mr. Fairey's attorneys said they planned to withdraw from the case.

    See this AP story: http://bit.ly/17rmiF

    The comment you've posted in italics (from AP to the L.A. Times) states an historical given in AP wire service reporting: Breaking news stories, including the Fairey matter, are updated routinely and often frequently as information develops.

    To suggest anything sinister in this is to misunderstand how stories viewed online are refreshed and expanded over time.

    Paul Colford
    Director of Media Relations
    The Associated Press

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Copycense, Oct 21st, 2009 @ 8:18am

    Fairey attorney withdrawal

    To be fair to AP, all the news from various non-AP sources between Saturday and this morning has indicated Fairey's lawyers from Stanford's CIS were going to withdraw. Further, Ben Sheffner (we know, your friend) over at Copyrights & Campaigns has linked to court filings in which Anthony Falzone and (I believe) Mark Lemley at CIS formally have requested to withdraw from the case.

    AP has opposed the CIS lawyers' withdrawal for cost & delay reasons, among others. See http://bit.ly/2acd4v

    What we really would like to know, however, is why Stanford's CIS attorneys would (or feel like they should) withdraw from representing Fairey if they believe (as Falzone has been quoted) that the case still has fair use merit. To do so know seems like they're bailing because Fairey no longer is the ideal, model, star client they hoped he would be for them. If that's the case, it suggests they took the case for publicity purposes in the first place, not primarily to fight against constricting parameters of the fair use doctrine.

    In fact, one could argue that now is the time Stanford's CIS lawyers should redouble their efforts in this fair use argument. And they'd have little to lose: if they win, they're geniuses; if they lose, it's because Fairey screwed up the case by being an incredible witness. They have no salary to lose on this -- remember, Jammie Thomas-Rasset's original lawyer bowed out because she owed him a huge amount of money in legal fees -- and they'd take no reputation hit because Fairey screwed up so badly.

    In fact, the only reputation hit the CIS lawyers may take is getting a reputation for bailing when the situation is not ideal. Charles Nesson didn't bail, as odd as his defense of Joel Tenenbaum may have seemed. Jammie Thomas' lawyers (trial or appellate) didn't bail (or bailed with damn good reason).

    But Stanford's salaried lawyers are going to bail, even when they think the core legal issue still has merit? Sounds like cherry picking to us.

     

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  6.  
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    Overtkill (profile), Oct 21st, 2009 @ 9:10am

    News? Bah humbug!

    I trust no reporting, what so ever! :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 21st, 2009 @ 10:46am

    Re: Checking the facts

    I'm not sure why Techdirt would choose on Tuesday to overlook Tuesday's development in the AP/Fairey case (http://bit.ly/17rmiF) and instead focus on last weekend.

    What "development" is that? It appears to be the AP claiming that his case has collapsed, without any actual new development.

    But, the point of the article was to raise a specific question: can one trust the AP reporting on this case? Your answer does not address that question.

    To suggest anything sinister in this is to misunderstand how stories viewed online are refreshed and expanded over time.

    I'm not suggesting anything "sinister," I'm just asking whether the AP can possibly be unbiased in reporting this matter.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
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    Paul Colford, Oct 21st, 2009 @ 11:30am

    Checking the facts

    Mike:

    I regret that a comments thread must serve to impart information that could be obtained easily during the writing of the original blogpost if one were to simply contact the AP, as many still do.

    Perhaps you could contact me offline with your e-mail and/or phone number, neither of which we've been able to unearth via your site or through your office's automated phone system.

    So it's essential for me to stress here that the AP news staff has long demonstrated that it reports dispassionately and accurately about AP litigation and corporate developments, just as all large news organizations do routinely.

    As for Tuesday developments in the Fairey case, the AP's amended counterclaim and supporting documents, the subject of numerous stories elsewhere, can be found here: http://bit.ly/1IfT28

    Paul Colford
    Director of Media Relations
    The Associated Press

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 21st, 2009 @ 2:17pm

    Re: Checking the facts

    I regret that a comments thread must serve to impart information that could be obtained easily during the writing of the original blogpost if one were to simply contact the AP, as many still do.

    I think it's more valuable to have these conversations out in the open, where everyone can learn.

    So it's essential for me to stress here that the AP news staff has long demonstrated that it reports dispassionately and accurately about AP litigation and corporate developments, just as all large news organizations do routinely.


    Ok, but there do seem to be some questionable claims in the AP reports.

    As for Tuesday developments in the Fairey case, the AP's amended counterclaim and supporting documents, the subject of numerous stories elsewhere, can be found here: http://bit.ly/1IfT28

    Going through the amended counterclaim, I still don't see any major difference at all. You still don't explain how it's not fair use when the AP itself DID NOT REALIZE the photo was from the AP itself. Clearly, that's evidence that it was transformative.

    I honestly can't understand what you guys are thinking in pursuing this case, other than that you are demonstrating a continuing and troubling (for a news agency!) misunderstanding of both copyright law and fair use.

    This is a bad idea.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
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    Fungo Knubb, Oct 21st, 2009 @ 7:22pm

    AP

    AP = Associated Phables

    There's nothing more to be said.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    Vilis Inde, Nov 18th, 2009 @ 8:21am

    Fairey's lawyers have withdrawn

    You are correct that the lawyers had not withdrawn as of the time of Fairey's announcement. They needed and have now recieved court approval to withdraw.
    You are also correct that Fairey's "mistakes" and creation of documents should not interefere with the legal issues of the case. That idealistic view, however, must be moderated by the fact that Fair-use cases are fact sensitive. If Fairey was mistaken about which photo he used, he may also be mistaken as to the purpose of the appropriation - commercial v. to help Obama win an election. He has lost credibility as to the facts.
    This is an interesting case that could give rise to an extension of the fair use doctrine. But this case should be settled. My guess, however, is that Fairey will keep exploiting the case to keep in the news.
    Finally, I hope that everyone is aware that Fairey himself does not like to have his images appropriated and turns to lawyers when this occurs.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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