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Further to the “Copying from the Internet” Issue…..

Written by Susan Neuberger Weller

In our August 14th blog, we explained why just because you can copy something from the Internet, doesn’t mean you should copy from the Internet. A case on this very issue that has been around for several years involved the well-known “Hope” poster of President Obama’s face made during the 2008 campaign. The poster became one of the popular images of the Obama campaign and many copies were sold. The creator, Shepard Fairey, eventually fessed up that he did, in fact, create this image based upon a photograph that was taken by Associated Press photographer Mannie Garcia.


As reported in the Wall Street Journal , Mr. Fairey finally agreed to pay AP $1.6 million and also agreed to get a license before ever using any AP photographs again.  Mr. Fairey could have avoided years of litigation (and criminal liability for lying during the civil suit) if he had just followed the AP procedure for obtaining permission to use the photograph.  As the photographer told NPR in 2009 “simply because it’s on the Internet doesn’t mean it’s free for the taking, and just because you can take it doesn’t mean it belongs to you.”  Well said Mr. Garcia. So, again, be very careful and cautious before you copy, cut, and paste things found on the Internet , or anywhere else for that matter.

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Geri Haight is a Mintz Member and former in-house counsel who focuses on employment litigation, counseling, and compliance, as well as intellectual property and trade secret matters.
Susan Neuberger Weller manages the Trademark & Copyright Practice at Mintz. Susan assists clients with securing and protecting IP assets across the globe. She's worked with clients in a variety of industries, including pharmaceuticals, medical devices, software, electronics, and entertainment.