Yet Another Question Of Fair Use With A Picture Of Obama

from the just-can't-get-away-from-it dept

We all know about the ongoing legal fight over Shepard Fairey’s iconic Obama poster, but it looks like there may be another potential battle over a different photo. After the election last year, Time Magazine published a bunch of photos of Obama in college, taken by a fellow student Lisa Jack, that had never been seen outside of a small group of people. One of the photos, showed Obama smoking a cigarette. It’s probably not a huge surprise that a marijuana legalization group, NORML, has modified the image to create a poster. You can see the two juxtaposed here:

Not surprisingly, Jack is not at all happy about the use of the photo, leading to yet another set of questions about fair use:

“They do not have my permission,” said Jack, a psychology professor in Minnesota. These photos “are absolutely not to be used in this way. … I really made a grand effort to do this properly, and I’m very irritated. If I’d wanted these to be used for political purposes, I’d have sold them to Hillary years ago.”

Now, of course you can appreciate her feelings on this, in that she doesn’t want her photo used this way, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not legal. And, even though it’s buried at the end of the article, Jack later admits that “it’s really cool” that her image is considered “iconic” enough to use in that manner. The real question is whether or not Jack will actually do anything about this. Copyright law is not designed to be used to stifle speech (especially political speech), but we could soon see yet another fair use battle over a famous Obama image.

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Comments on “Yet Another Question Of Fair Use With A Picture Of Obama”

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John Doe says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Scared of Copyright? Need new inspiration? Take a hint from Painter Lacey!

This is the age of tolerance and the zero tolerance policy. Many work places ban anything that might be construed as anything. Then they hope not to get sued by employees who saw another employee looking at the banned sites/content.

Just another product of the US legal system.

Korrosive says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Scared of Copyright? Need new inspiration? Take a hint from Painter Lacey!

At a software development shop. Anyone viewing this at work (whatever that work setting might be) must be in a position where no one else can view their screen. The image (first one I saw on the page) does not come close to offending me, but in work places all that is needed is a hint of impropriety to get you in a whole load of trouble.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Work.. who needs work?


Glad to see I’m not the only slacker.

If you use Firefox, may I suggest getting CoolPreview. Has options to view a page’s “preview” in any work-related web page and can be resized to be inconspicuous & positioned to be blend in to the web site.

in regards to the post.. not sure i would like to see my own pic used by some organization i had not ties to, but i suppose once you step into politics you’re fair game.

ToySouljah (profile) says:


lol…Well, Obama did say he did smoke cannabis quite frequently when he was younger (maybe during the days the photo was taken?) and yes…he did inhale…that’s the point. I loved when I heard that 🙂 I’m a member of NORML and so I guess I am a bit bias too the matter, but it was all in fun trying to show that cannabis does not make you a loser. Hell, there is even an 8 time Gold Medalist in the ranks of smokers along with some of the the worlds greatest thinkers. Although, I was a bit upset that Phelps apologized since he didn’t do anything wrong and deserved to have a little relaxation and fun time. I guess all the pictures of Obama drinking are ok…even if it is a more dangerous drug….but at least it’s legal lmao. Again, I do not advocate smoking marijuana (inhalation of burnt carbons is not very healthy), but there’s always vaporizers and cooking 🙂

Also, wouldn’t the picture be considered parody? Kind of like the cartoons in Hustler of politicians that some of which do resemble some stock photos that have been edited.

toyotabedzrock (profile) says:

Not fair use

Perhaps in these borderline cases that contain a photo of a person it would be best to ask said person?

I think that this photo is not fair use, they only gave the photo a slight tint and then put it in a border.

Basically it took someone all of 5 min, probably less if they are good with photoshop, and they used almost the entire original image unmodified, except for a green tint and a wisp of smoke that was pasted on top.



well well well we finally came to a point in history that you are called a racist if you appose someones candidacy

this is the truth and you will soon see the true face of this .GOV nothing more than a soap and you are the star aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahaha

why so serious,…………because you are close minded and simple

why so racist because you really dont know the true meaning

why so scared because what they want to do to you all is so (Historical) that your simple,racist, serious mind cant handle it…………..or you never attended social studies


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