Re: Obama campaign artist--copyright infringement??
I've been somewhat following this case in my spare time, being in the advertising business, clients ask me to find images for their brochures, catalogs, etc. and their usual comment is, "just grab something off Google Images". I try to educate them on what my "limited" understanding of copyright law is, but sometimes they insist and when they do I make them sign or have in writing that they, the client, supplied all images. Not sure if that would hold up in court and keep my name clear, but I think it tells the client I won't be their scapegoat. As for what Fairey did, this is fairly common practice and I may have even crossed this line of using found images and changing them to fit my clients needs.
Andy Warhol's soup cans were mentioned above, which are definitely making a culture statement as were the Marilyn Monroe and other celeb prints. Fairey is also making a statement, a political statement aimed at a particular audience. I think Fairey's work is even more separated from the original than Warhol's. My feeling is that Fairey took a ho-hum photograph and turned it into an iconic image. AP is just trying to cash in, when in truth Fairey could have simply used another image, he just happen to come across the AP image first. All that said, as popular as Fairey is and his subject matter, he should of had enough brains to either find another image or ask for permission. I don't think taking this to court is in either party's best interest.