In the latest skirmish between the Associated Press and Shepard Fairey over copyright concerning
his iconic poster of Barack Obama, Fairey has filed new counterclaims against the AP, including that the AP used the photo of Fairey's poster without getting a license
. He also lists out a number of other images of artwork that the AP did not get a license to use, but which it uses within photos, and then states:
The doctrine of unclean hands and basic principles of equity prohibit The AP from contending that Counterclaim Defendants' Obama Works infringe The AP's copyrights when The AP itself exploits the copyrighted work of Fairey and other artists without permission and in a manner that is far less transformative than the Obama Works, as illustrated but not limited to, the photographs listed above.
It seems this battle is getting nasty. Of course, while making these claims may feel good, it's hard to believe that they'll be all that compelling. The AP will clearly claim that its photos of these pieces of artwork were fair use, as part of news commentary. But, that's probably part of the point being raised by Fairey's legal team. It's unlikely to believe that the AP really abused Fairey's copyright or the copyrights of these other artists, but if it can get the AP defending its acts on fair use principles, then they can easily use the AP's words against it, in explaining why Fairey's image is also covered by fair use.