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Settling up campaign debts

The AP is suing Shepherd Fairey for illegally using one of their images for his now-famous “Hope” illustration of Barack Obama. As my favorite journalism professor at UMass used to say, you can’t spell “cheap” without AP. The Associated Press wants compensation for the use of their photo.

The compensation claim is difficult. Fairey has clearly benefited from the exposure gained through his portrait, but received little if any compensation from the image itself – since Fairey’s goal was to elect Barack Obama, he allowed the image to be used freely. The biggest benefactor of the image was Barack Obama.

If there’s any cash left in his $750 million campaign coffers, it might be nice to use some to help Fairey out – especially since the image was the basis for the official inauguration poster and buttons designed by the Obama transition team.

Of course, they might wonder – as I do – why the AP is bringing up the controversy now when the image saw its heaviest use months and months ago during the campaign.

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