Re: Obama campaign artist--copyright infringement??
Seems that Google Image is now "fair game" for reference photos. . . as long as you don't usurp income form the original creator, anything goes! Fair use should not be interpreted as if it were defined for artists who wanted to skip steps in the creative process. I believe this "Fairey Tale" has the power to erode copyright protection, the potential to encourage use of anything and everything available on the internet, and the possibility of promoting the illegal and often unwanted and destructive posting of promotional materials into the realm of legitimate art publicity.
While Warhol was making a statement about culture and choices and mass production in his iconic Campbell's Soup Cans, I don't see an on-point parallel in Fairey's work. In Fairey's response to the Obama campaign's call to artists he took the easy route to fame by combining a googled image and his knowledge of simple pop art techniques. But unlike elevating the idea of canned nutrition into the realms of discussable art, his Obama image itself does not speak to ideas or questions or discussions of public policy, but rather pretends to be on par with the many original ideas that were submitted, but passed over, in part because Fairey had already plastered the nation's security fences and street posts with the image on his widely distributed posters.
And I don't entirely agree with the evaluation by NPR's guest lawyer on the "fair use" evaluation regarding the "factual vs. creative" argument. A good photographer can stand among many photographers while shooting the same subject at the same time and bring a skill in composition and exposure to his image that makes it stand apart. I don't think the loss of income should be a factor as much as whether we want to encourage the use of other's works, be they photos, sculptures, paintings . . . or words, by anyone and for any purpose. . . even if it is a good purpose.
All Fairey had to do was ask and acknowledge that the image he based his work on was someone else's composition . . . .