Fairey sentenced to probation

AP Photo

Shepard Fairey poses with the iconic poster that brought him fame and legal trouble.

For destroying documents and fabricating evidence in his court battle against the Associated Press that centered around the iconic "HOPE" posters during Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign, skateboarder and internationally acclaimed artist Shepard Fairey was fined $25,000 and sentenced to two years of probation and 300 hours of community service.

The 42-year-old Fairey, who in February pleaded guilty of deleting files and manufacturing others, faced up to six months in prison, but received the lesser sentence late last week by U.S. Magistrate Judge Frank Maas, who reportedly cited the artist's charity work and several letters of support.

The news organization accused Fairey of copyright infringement in 2009 for using an AP photograph of Obama for the now-famous poster rendition. With Fairey maintaining that he was protected by fair-use laws, that case was settled out of court, but not before the artist admitted that he misstated which photo he used for the artwork and deleted others. These admissions sparked the criminal contempt investigation that ended with Fairey's sentencing last week in a New York City courtroom.

"I accept full responsibility for violating the court's trust by tampering with evidence during my civil case with the Associated Press," Fairey said in a statement released after the court proceedings on September 7. "I accept the judge's sentence and look forward to finally putting this episode behind me. My wrong-headed actions, born out of a moment of fear and embarrassment, have not only been financially and psychologically costly to myself and my family, but also helped to obscure what I was fighting for in the first place -- the ability of artists everywhere to be inspired and freely create art without reprisal."

"After spending a great amount of time, energy and legal effort, all of us at The Associated Press are glad this matter is finally behind us," AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt said in a statement. "We hope this case will serve as a clear reminder to all of the importance of fair compensation for those who gather and produce original news content."

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