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Douglass v. Fairey: How I Fought For – And Won – Credit From Shepard Fairey

It isn’t hard to understand why photographers want credit for their work. Most of us live and breathe our craft, and the best among us sacrifice much in pursuit of ever-better images. We envision. We direct. We create. We go days without sleep. And in the end, the art that results is ours, and we want credit for it.

So what happens when a well-known artist asks a photographer for permission to use their image for one of their art pieces, then fails to honor any of the license terms that the photographer sets forth?

My copyrighted image of cancer survivor Jessica Ikenberry struck a chord with pop artist Shepard Fairey, who contacted me about using it as the basis for an art piece to be auctioned off to benefit the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Long a fan of Armstrong’s book “It’s Not About the Bike,” and a cancer survivor myself, I of course was interested in contributing.

I had previously read a number of articles wherein Fairey discussed his opinions on “fair use” and “transformative works,” and was interested in the outcome of his then-still-pending lawsuit with the Associated Press (AP) regarding his then-disputed use of the Mannie Garcia image for his Obama “Hope” poster. Still, I was open to the discussion, and I told him via phone and email that he could use my image provided that he agreed to my very simple license terms. First, I wanted credit for my work, and second, I wanted the opportunity to photograph him with the art piece in his studio before it was shipped to auction.

He agreed to my terms verbally and in an email, then asked me for a B&W hi-res version of my image, which I provided. He also discussed a different crop of my image, as he thought the in-your-face nature of the entire image might garner less money at auction. I agreed, and he later sent me a mockup of what he was working on. I said, “Cool,” and waited for him to contact me about shooting the finished art piece.

Months later, without having been contacted by Fairey as promised, I found that the resulting “Jessica” art piece was prominently displayed in a traveling art exhibition called Stages 09, jointly produced by Nike and the Lance Armstrong Foundation, and then showing at a gallery in Paris, France. The “Jessica” piece was also featured prominently on the Stages 09 web site, the Lance Armstrong Foundation web site and the Nike web site. Further, a making-of video about the “Jessica” piece was featured on all three sites.

A friend went to the Paris gallery to check the signage and gallery brochure, and did not find any photo credit. I looked at the Stages 09, Lance Armstrong Foundation and Nike web sites, and did not find any photo credit. I watched the making-of video – a piece which centered around Jessica’s story and Fairey’s creation of the “Jessica” art piece – for which my image was the source material, and again did not find any photo credit (though Fairey did mention “the original photo”). Further, by the time I found out about its existence, the press release and making-of video had been copied to countless other web sites.

It became clear that I, as the creator of the original portrait, was not credited in any way nor as agreed. Interestingly, the person who photographed the “Jessica” art piece for the Stages 09 web site did receive credit.

I was not told that the piece would be used for anything other than an auction. I was not told about Nike’s involvement, nor about the traveling art exhibition (which ultimately was displayed in Paris, New York and Miami). I was not given the opportunity to go to the studio to shoot the piece. I was not credited in the documentation hanging next to the piece, nor in the show program. And I was not credited in the video made about the “Jessica” piece, nor on any of the web sites where the “Jessica” piece was featured. Simply, none of my license terms were met.

I called renowned copyright attorney Carolyn E. Wright for advice (, and she took my case. While I could share some very interesting quotes and details about what ultimately ensued, I won’t. Suffice it to say that after months of legal back and forth, the law was on my side, and in the matter of Douglass v. Fairey, I emerged victorious, and a confidential settlement was reached.

Soon after, my attorney forwarded me a new AP release which stated Fairey had admitted “he sued the AP under false pretenses by lying about which AP photograph he used to make the [Obama] ‘Hope’ and ‘Progress’ posters,” and admitted that he “fabricated and attempted to destroy other evidence in an effort to bolster his fair use case and cover up previous lies and omissions.” I could provide details of my reaction to this news, but let’s just say it was not good.

A month or so later, New York gallery owner James Danziger blogged some photos he had taken in New York of a Stages 09 promotional poster featuring the “Jessica” art piece (photos reproduced below with his permission). Underneath the image of the “Jessica” art piece, in very tiny text, was my credit. James wrote this particular blog entry (read it here) specifically because he had never before seen a credit appear alongside any of Fairey’s works.

I don’t actually have a copy of that promotional poster, but I finally got my credit. A poster of the “Jessica” art piece was also issued, and proceeds from the sale of the now-sold-out poster were donated to cancer charities (see the poster below).

For my part, I think that fighting for your rights is always worthwhile. Fairey’s art may be better known than mine, but his art is no more or less important, and his rights as an artist are no more or less important than mine.

I still don’t know why any artist would deny another artist credit for their work, especially when their own work is based upon another person’s original creation. If any artist thinks that the creators of photographic images are not as worthy of credit as the creators of paintings, multimedia collages or other types of art, then I humbly submit that disdain for another artist’s medium has no place in the art world.

In one of his many blog posts on the Shepard Fairey / Mannie Garcia matter, James Danziger perhaps more eloquently summarizes my point. In his post, entitled “I Object,” he states:

“There’s nearly always a suggestion in these discussions that if you don’t back the artist (as opposed to the photographer) you’re trampling on their freedom of expression. In these situations (not all of which went to court) — Jeff Koons and Andrea Blanch, Richard Prince and the original photographers of the Marlboro Men campaign, Warhol and Frank Powolny (who took the Marilyn Monroe photograph), and now Fairey and Garcia — there’s an implication that defining yourself as an “artist” as opposed to a “photographer” makes you more important and gives you special privilege. It also implies that a straightforward photograph is of lesser significance or value than a painting or conceptual work of art. I object.”

On February 24, 2012, Fairey pleaded guilty to criminal contempt relating to destruction of documents and falsifying evidence in the Obama “Hope” case.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement that Fairey “went to extreme lengths to obtain an unfair and illegal advantage in his civil litigation, creating fake documents and destroying others in an effort to subvert the civil discovery process.”

AP President and CEO Tom Curley released a statement which said: “Mr. Fairey started this case by suing the AP over copyright fair use issues. The AP never expected the case to take the turn that it did. The AP hopes that some good may come of this, by alerting judges and parties to the possibility that fake evidence may exist.”

While I’ve kept this story quiet for more than two years, it is my hope that by sharing it, my colleagues in the photography world will understand that you can fight for your rights and win. It’s not easy. But it can be done.

Dina Douglass
Andrena Photography
February 27, 2012

Andrena Photography

02.27.12 - 3:18 am

Chris Mann - A very sad and cautionary tale.

On the one hand, I’m glad that you were able to uphold your rights as the creator of the source material for Fairey’s poster – but on the other hand I’m sad that you had to go to such lengths to have your fundamental rights acknowledged (even to such a cursory) extent, and to hold Shepard Fairey accountable for his clear and unjustifiable breach of your original agreement.

And it’s even more regrettable that it seems that you are not the only photographer that he has treated in this high-handed and disrespectful way.

Of all people, another creative artist should understand and respect a fellow creator’s basic right to have their efforts acknowledged – especially when you contributed your image purely to benefit an extremely worthy cause, and not for your own personal gain.

Karma is, of course, a wonderful thing. But none of this should have ever happened. The ultimate loser (if there is any justice) should of course be Fairey himself – his reputation should surely be in the trash…

02.27.12 - 4:41 am

Steve Holcroft - It’s shocking that any artist can use a photograph as the fundamental basis of a piece of work and not consider the photographer worthy of mention. The finished work should have been considered a collaboration between artists, rather than the selfish product of the last person who touched it.
Well done for fighting for recognition.

02.27.12 - 5:39 am

Annie Warren - I am appalled that one artist could show such a blatant lack of respect for other artists and their rights. I can only put his deplorable actions down to sheer ego and belief that he is more important than the photographers who created the images on which he bases his art works. I clearly remember your initial excitement and how honoured you felt when Fairey first approached you about the use of your image. As it turns out he is simply not worthy of your honour, or your beautiful photograph. I’m so sorry you went through this ordeal Andrena, but I applaud you for having the strength and courage to stand up for your rights.

02.27.12 - 5:52 am

Louis Schroder - Way to go Andrena. I can imagine your frustration with this and I
Am glad you came out on top. Continue creating beautiful Original work unlike others that takes someones elses work and does some glorified photoshop on it.

02.27.12 - 6:00 am

Nikki Mcleod - What an interesting & difficult situation for you.

Protect your copyright.

02.27.12 - 6:05 am

Cindy Alderton - Congratulations on a fight well fought and a victory well deserved.

02.27.12 - 6:21 am

David Pearce - I am so pleased that you won this case Dina. It was a horrible thing to go through and well done for sticking to your beliefs and fighting for your rights. Not many are brave enough to do that. You are one of the worlds great people in mind and spirit.

02.27.12 - 6:43 am

Allegra - What a scum bucket. It’s bad enough when corporate tries to rip off artists but when it’s one of our own… really? It’s not like your licensing terms seemed to have been especially onerous. I’m so glad that you fought this and I’m so glad you won. Quick question for you that I didn’t see in your post – was your image registered with the copyright office?

02.27.12 - 6:52 am

George Weir - Dina:
It truly warms the cockles of my heart to read how you have prevailed here. I trust and hope that by this outcome many photographers/artists will take note and let this guide their own actions and resolve in this age of “digital feudalism”.
Dina, I raise my glass to you!

All my very best wishes.

02.27.12 - 7:01 am

Michael Caswell - Great job, Dina… good for you for not backing down and letting this guy run over you.

02.27.12 - 7:29 am

Monique Dykstra - Good for you! You stood up for your rights as a photographer, and won. You set a great example for all of us.

02.27.12 - 8:03 am

Marcia Gold - What a shocking tale of deceit and lies. I am sure there is a lot more to this story and you’re just being discreet. It’s too bad that someone with his probable talent chooses to stoop so low as to make it a larcenous habit to steal images from photographers. It goes way beyond the “easier to beg forgiveness than ask permission” modus operandi. I personally believe that he was allowed as a child to take whatever he wanted, and that entitlement has carried on into his adulthood. In the end, however, he will end up alone in life, because I am sure he behaves similarly towards his friends and family.

02.27.12 - 8:05 am

patti harrell - This is sad that an artist like Shepard Fairey would stoop to this level. The only word that comes to mind and sticks is disrespect. What was he thinking? Clearly only of himself! Thanks for standing up for the rights of not only yourself, but so many others! I know it took up so much of your time and money…… time that could have been spent in so many other positive ways, but then again, in the end, it was probably some the best creative and rewarding time you have spent! Thanks for all you do for the photography community!

02.27.12 - 8:08 am

Tammy Warnock - I am so very proud of you for being an amazing artist and having the courage to stand up to Mr. Fairey to secure the credit that you should have had all along. You have conducted yourself with courage and grace and I am proud to have you as a friend. As for the dishonest Mr. Fairey, I sincerely hope that the courts throw the book at him in a manner that will make him think twice about ever EVER violating the rights of another artist.

02.27.12 - 8:58 am

Phillip Colwart - Congratulations, Dina, and on behalf of photographers everywhere, thank you for your tenacity in seeing this through. Nowadays, once an image digitally leaves our computers, the whole world seems to think that it is fair game to use that image for any purpose they wish. Your battle will hopefully raise awareness, at least within our art community, that every image has a creator with rights.

02.27.12 - 9:12 am

Rob Greer - I’m hopeful that this cautionary tale will serve as a lesson for photographers everywhere who may one day be approached by Fairey (or other artists). I know that if someone approached me today with a similar offer, your post here would jump straight to mind. Bully for you Dina! Rock on!

02.27.12 - 9:37 am

Elizabeth Atkins - Dina-

Just wanted to say how awesome I think this is, and how much you’ve inspired me over the course of the last year. Thank you so much for sharing your experience and encouraging others to stand up for what is rightfully theirs.

You do amazing work, and we are all the better for it!

Keep rockin’,

02.27.12 - 9:56 am

Cathy Deschamps - Dina, thank you for being a champion for the rest of us.

02.27.12 - 10:08 am

Greg Gibson - Dina – thanks for taking on the battle. By fighting for your own rights, you are fighting for the rights of all photographers. Proud of you for seeing it through.

02.27.12 - 10:13 am

Robert Welch - Dina, it is a shame that the art piece got so much ‘air play’ without you having ever been mentioned as original artwork material creator. The fact this was a project for a charity cause doesn’t absolve Mr. Fairey from doing the right thing and acknowledging the source for his project, which was your creative vision that inspired him and was the original form from which he embellished. If anyone’s name belonged second on that piece, it was his, the fact that your original contribution wasn’t even acknowledged in the presentation was blatant disregard on his part. Obviously your contribution was greatly important to this work as it was the creativity of your vision that was the foundation of his work and was the core graphic element even in the final product. Good for you to stand up for your right to be recognized, and shame on Mr. Fairey for lacking any conscience toward the efforts of other artist.

02.27.12 - 10:15 am

Steve D - It’s sad that it had to come to this, but I’m so glad you stood up for your rights as a fellow artist…and won! Thank you for sharing the story of your battle. I found it to be inspirational!

02.27.12 - 10:16 am

Dax - Words can describe how grateful I am on behalf of all artists for standing up for all of our rights! A humble and sincere thank you!

02.27.12 - 10:21 am

Rebecca Little - Good for you, Dina! How disheartening that someone would do this, and so blatantly! I’m glad it worked out in your favor.

02.27.12 - 10:21 am

Stacy Reeves - Shepard Fairey has proven himself to be completely disrespectful of the rights of any artist other than himself, not to mention a person who happily plays fast and loose with the law. Thank you so much for standing up to him and defending not just your rights, but the rights of photographers everywhere.

02.27.12 - 10:21 am

Michelle Allmon - Way to go!

02.27.12 - 10:25 am

Aly Medina/La Luz Photography - Way to go, Dina. You fought for what all artists deserve: credit for their work! I admire your tenacity and your unwillingness to shrink down in the face of big corporations and cowardly artists.

02.27.12 - 10:25 am

Susan Ashe - Bravo Dina. So very proud of you for fighting for your rights as an artist and a photographer.

02.27.12 - 10:31 am

Phillip Blume - Well said, Dina. Thanks for illustrating so clearly the need to protect our legal rights as artists. I am disgusted (but sadly not surprised) when another artist is willing to trample those rights, then take illegal actions to cover his tracks and — ironically — to claim the same rights for himself.

The artificial distinction between “photographer” and “multimedia artist” perplexes me. Since when was a photograph more “straightforward” than an art print in some other medium? Fairey’s re-mix of your image certainly deserves credit for its artistic merits: He did add certain multimedia flourishes and his own color palette. However, the primary value of the image remains your work: your choices of subject, creative lighting, mood, pose, context, etc. All of these elements are worked out by the photographer in advance of the “straightforward” shutter release. And, if I may say so, you pulled them off brilliantly. A wonderful image, for which you deserve full credit. Keep up the good work!

02.27.12 - 10:31 am

Elena Hernandez - I am proud that you fought for your rights and won Dina. Right is Right. Thank you for sharing your important story with all of us!

02.27.12 - 10:33 am

Karen - Dina, congrats on sticking to your guns and standing up for your rights as an artist – and for all of our rights. You are amazing!

02.27.12 - 10:36 am

Laurence - I commend you for sticking to your guns and following through. I know litigation becomes a black hole, emotionally, and you must be drained from this theft. But theft is theft, and perhaps you’ve shown that photography is no less valuable than any other art. Thanks for not being a victim – you’ve helped the entire community.

02.27.12 - 10:42 am

Lorraine Varela - How difficult would it have been, really, for Mr. Fairey to uphold the terms of your licensing agreement, an arrangement he voluntarily entered into? Was it worth the consequences he now faces? Conduct yourself with honesty and integrity, and you’ll make your life a whole lot easier. Plus you’ll keep the respect of your peers. It’s sad that this man who considers himself an artist couldn’t show the same level of decency and respect that he would like to receive himself. I’m glad you pursued this case – successfully! – to serve as a lesson to us all.

02.27.12 - 10:42 am

John Mireles - The more I learn about Shepard Fairey, the less I like about him. First he steals from Manny Garcia, then he lies about it in court. He takes from you without any credit. Whatever happened to creating original art? Thanks for sharing!

02.27.12 - 10:44 am

Randy Kepple - Your heart was in the right place. It’s wonderful to see someone in your position give back to benefit something that is near and dear to your heart. You never asked for compensation. Just recognition for creating the content this artist’s derivative piece was based. It’s an interesting discussion for sure and worthy of engaging. Thank you for fighting the fight of principles and for defending the rights of artists everywhere. Continued success Andrena!

02.27.12 - 10:44 am

Mark Creery - I really appreciate your fight for what’s fair and your openness in sharing this ordeal. Too often photographers are overlooked and not credited where due (as has happened to me in newspapers before) and hopefully this case goes some way to rectifying the problem. Photographers are not asking for too much as artists to be recognized for their efforts! Thanks, Dina, for your bravery and great work!

02.27.12 - 10:45 am

Valentin - Dina,

I’m so glad to see that you prevailed (you never know, even if you are in the right), especially after having to go through all of this. It’s sad that you have to fight so hard for your rights as an artist and I hope other photographers will stand for their right if needed. Thank you for setting a great example.

02.27.12 - 10:46 am

Lane Hickenbottom - Thanks for fighting the good fight, Dina!

02.27.12 - 10:47 am

Brenda Pottinger - Thank you so much for sharing this story. It is important to protect our rights as photographers and as artists. I wish you all the best!

02.27.12 - 10:50 am

Sam Ellis - Congratulations on winning this case and for not just letting it slide by. I wonder how Shepard Fairey would feel if a photographer took a photo of one of his pieces, modified it in Photoshop, and then sold it as her own original artwork without acknowledging or compensating him. Of course, this has probably happend many times over with the HOPE image. I’m sure he’s not thrilled to have his work copied without compensation.
Every artist should stand up for their rights the way you have. I hope that you were duly compensated for the hassle you had to go through.

02.27.12 - 10:56 am

Candice Cossel - I am so glad to hear you stood up for your rights. I am so tired of photographers just bending over for anyone that wants their stuff under the guise of “why fight it”. What if we told that to other victims of crime? Thank you for being strong, brave, and showing the world that photography is just as much of an art.

02.27.12 - 10:57 am

Mark - Dina:

My hope is that some of our professional organizations will take note and that your triumph will set a new precedent in the fight against copyright infringement. To me, art is the manifestation of thoughts or ideas. The fact that this guy could copy yours (or others) doesn’t make him an artist. Hope this gives pause to others who think they own images — rather than prints — and that they learn to recognize the difference.

02.27.12 - 10:57 am

Patrick Ralph - My first reaction is ‘what a Bastard!’.

My second is that too many people don’t believe that the work of photographers, especially wedding photographers, can be art and worth protecting.

Well done, you struck a blow for us all.


02.27.12 - 11:04 am

Cindy Stafford - You asked for so little and he took so much. I am sad that your rights were breeched on such a powerful image.

02.27.12 - 11:05 am

Elise Beall - Thank for for standing up for the rights of all photographers. So many times it’s easier to just let it go than to fight for what it right. In this instance, justice prevailed. Hopefully this case will make others think more carefully before failing to abide by licensing terms.

02.27.12 - 11:11 am

Nina Parker - Even having basic knowledge of the situation, it was so disappointing to read this article. To hear how this artist could so blatantly disregard the agreement he had made is just startling. Thankfully the law and rightness prevailed in this situation, but the art world is diminished because of people like him.

02.27.12 - 11:13 am

Hilda Burke - I admire you for standing up for your rights. I think many others would have just ‘let it go’, not wanting to bother with a lawsuit. Well done!

02.27.12 - 11:18 am

Shawna Gohel - Brava Dina! You are an inspiration in every form of the word artist.

02.27.12 - 11:22 am

Tom Darby - Congrats! I admire your persistence and appreciate the time and effort you put into it. Hopefully many will benefit by the results of your case. And just maybe in some way the cancer victims will also be the winners for your hard work!

02.27.12 - 11:25 am

John Wiley - It is a constant source of amazement, for me, that other creatives (or, pseudo-creatives) have no qualms about doing this sort of thing.

A pervasive “entitlement” mind-set, coupled with an equally widespread scofflaw attitude fed by ignorance and mis-/disinformation about copyright, intellectual property, “fair use”, etc., make occurrences like this increasingly common.

I’m glad things went, more or less, in your favor (but so wishing it had turned out better for you). Even more glad this creep will finally taste justice.

02.27.12 - 11:37 am

Brian - Thank you Dina for standing up for our rights as photographers. It probably wasn’t easy to take on Fairey but you did the right thing. Remember, United we stand, divided we fall!!

02.27.12 - 11:38 am

Aimee - SO proud of you for fighting for it! As I’m reading, I couldn’t help but wonder how he’s the “artist”, YOU are the artist. Perhaps it is being a photographer, but the final product is art. From the original vision to the final out of your computer is the art. I can’t imagine how anyone would not consider the original image art.
The guy sounds like a hack every which way anyone could be one. You had the vision to make an amazing, powerful image. All he could do was rip it off.
I am so sorry you had to go through all this and that there are people out there who have such complete disregard for our rights as artists. ALL artists of every medium.
Thank you for sharing this, thank you for fighting for your rights (which serves us ALL). Well done!

02.27.12 - 11:39 am

Ulysses - Congratulations, Dina! You already know the incredibly high regard in which I hold you. But I truly admire the way you stuck to your guns with this. We’re better individually and as an industry for this story and your win. Thank you for sharing the tale. And thank you for this win for us all!

02.27.12 - 11:40 am

Tim Palmer - Well done Dina! An amazing story. As an artist and a photographer I am delighted with your determination to win a victory for fairness.

02.27.12 - 11:44 am

Frank - Always fight for your rights – you are an example to us all.

02.27.12 - 11:44 am

Dale Matthews - Thank you Dina! For your art, for standing up for our art of photography and for sharing the story. Well done.

02.27.12 - 11:56 am

Jen - Amazing Dina! So proud of you for standing up to him and kicking his a$$!!

02.27.12 - 11:57 am

Braxton - I am so happy you received your much deserved credit and recognition for your art Dina. Thank you for pursuing your case and standing up for yourself while setting a precedent for other photographers.

02.27.12 - 11:57 am

Tara K. - I sometimes worry and ask “why bother?” with the odds of your work being used without permission is so high, thanks to the vast greatness of our internet. But you’ve restored the faith. The fight can be fought, and won! THANK YOU DINA!

02.27.12 - 12:11 pm

Katya StoryMotion - Congratulations, Dina! Thank you for sharing this story. So proud of you for standing up against what he did and winning! It’s shameful what he did. I’m really disappointed and saddened how many in our (creative) industry have little integrity when it comes to someone else’s work, or just their professional behavior in general. You, on the other hand, have been an amazing source of inspiration and a great friend. I wish we had more truly talented and giving people like you in this industry.

02.27.12 - 12:13 pm

Richard Galloway - Good for you. It is a sad reflection of the world we live in that photographers are not seen as artists and therefore not given their due. Of course we are often not our own bes advocates in this regard. What was really sad to see was the fact that he tried to take advantage of you who showed nothing but good faith. Was it a cynical attempt on his part or just thoughtlessness – either way very shabby behaviour. Very glad that you pursued it. It’s a great image BTW!

02.27.12 - 12:13 pm

Ray Prevost - Nothing more to add but my support and my admiration. :)

02.27.12 - 12:17 pm

Adam George - If your art was any less worthy than his own, he wouldn’t have needed your photograph to begin with. The pose, light, and captured expression – ALL YOU. Thank you for defending our art form and copyright in general. Your efforts are appreciated!

02.27.12 - 12:19 pm

Aimee - Well said Adam.

02.27.12 - 12:20 pm

Kelly Vasami - Your original photograph is incredibly moving and so very beautiful. I can see what Fairey was inspired by it. His work does not hold a candle to your original. I applaud you for standing up for your rights, I am sure this was not an easy road.

02.27.12 - 12:20 pm

Thomas Lunt - first comment….FANTASTIC work! I am blown away by the original image.

second…Good for you! All artists deserve proper credit and I want to thank you for standing up for all of us. Great job!

02.27.12 - 12:23 pm

Kevin - Thank you Dina for standing up for your creative rights! This isn’t an easy thing to do. I am proud to say I know you!

02.27.12 - 12:26 pm

Thomas Geist - Andrena! I am glad this took a somewhat positive turn for you! Photography is art, hard work and livelihood all in one and it needs to be honored as this. You didn’t even ask for much!
There is an old rule: whoever benefits from you work must compensate, unless YOU waive compensation. NO ONE has the right to diminish your right to this.
You did the whole photography industry a huge favor with your persistence and since I am part of this industry I say THANK YOU!

02.27.12 - 12:26 pm

Jesus Tirso - Dina, YOU are the original artist in this piece. While he can claim to be an “artist” and get all the publicity, he is lacks originality and just derives his “art” from that of others.

I am glad it turned out how it did – with you as well as the AP. A leopard never changes its spots.

02.27.12 - 12:32 pm

Michele Stapleton - His work would have been NOTHING without your photograph. For him to not praise your contribution at every possibility opportunity says a lot about what kind of person he apparently is. What an ego!

02.27.12 - 12:38 pm

Clay Toporski Photography - Thank you for sharing your story with everyone. It is really a shame that another artist would stoop this low amongst his peers and that giant commercial partners such as Nike wouldn’t due their due diligence as well. While it is upsetting this happened to you, hopefully it is a lesson that teaches future generations of artists about the importance of copyright laws.

02.27.12 - 12:38 pm

Tamera Goldsmith - Dina, I’m so glad this is over for you, and that you prevailed. I know how much stress this has caused you over the last couple of years. Thanks for standing up for all of us :) Tamera

02.27.12 - 12:44 pm

Bobbi Petersen - I am disgusted and appalled that he thought he could get away with this… which is sad because he is a really great artist. It took long enough but he definitely got what he deserved. Congratulations on an awesome victory!

02.27.12 - 12:46 pm

Eli Powell - Thatnks for sharing your story Dina. Props for standing up for your beautiful work.

02.27.12 - 12:47 pm

Susie Canino|Miami and Vero Beach Wedding Photography - Dina, you are a true artist, and he lacks integrity and it shows. I am so glad you are finally getting recognition for your art.

02.27.12 - 12:53 pm

Anne Ruthmann - Way to go girl. Too many artists don’t stand up for their rights- especially when it may be perceived as a “collaboration” of sorts. Likewise, too many more people don’t even protect their work online by putting their own name on it. Thank you for taking this to the next level and for sharing your experience with us all.

02.27.12 - 12:54 pm

Jenifer Samaha - Good for you!!

02.27.12 - 1:02 pm

Melanie East Photography - Well done Dina! I am so glad you stood up for your creative rights. Your original image is beautiful. Thank you for sharing your story.

02.27.12 - 1:12 pm

Teri - Bravo Dina! Standing up for your creative rights will inspire others to do the same. Thank you for sharing this story.

Also, the image of Jessica is just hauntingly beautiful.


02.27.12 - 1:13 pm

Geoff Shaw - Thank you Dina for persisting through a very difficult problem and fighting for your rights. Not all photographers would have been up for such a battle. I’m so glad you were victorious and I find even the fact that you saw it through is very inspiring. And of course – great photograph!

02.27.12 - 1:42 pm

Gary B. - It is easy to rip-off the concept or work of another artist. To deny doing so is wrong on many levels. It is apparent that as of late Shepard Fairey is finding out that individual artists, especially photographers actually care about deserved recognition and compensation. As with anything, do it with honor and integrity, something Mr. Fairey is learning the hard way.

02.27.12 - 1:46 pm

Paul Aazpeitia - YEAH, DINA!!! Glad you beat this lying, thieving poseur in court!

Fairey has shown more than once that he’s much more a thief than an artist.

You do the hard work of setting up the shot, taking it, and printing it, then he essentially copies your work w/o credit. What scum.

02.27.12 - 1:47 pm

Nick Despres - How an artist can treat someone like this is quite incredible.
Well done for following through on what must have been a frustrating process. I hope you now get the recognition you deserve.
Really powerful original photograph in it’s uncropped version.

02.27.12 - 1:48 pm

Jennifer Feltis - Thank you for standing up for your rights, Dina- and therefore standing up for all of our rights. How dare one artist dimiss another’s work and yet use it in the creation of their own piece?!? I hope that both of these lawsuits will teach Fairey a long overdue lesson.

02.27.12 - 2:09 pm

christine perry-burke - Hi Dina, Congratulations on your victory. This touched me as an important message from many angles; the use of your image, the value that is put on all forms of art and beast cancer awareness. Hopefully your victory will get the attention it deserves.

02.27.12 - 2:19 pm

Andree Kehn - Congratulations on winning your case. How horrifying it must have been for you to realize that your entire agreement was ignored.

02.27.12 - 2:25 pm

Pamela Henry-Biskup - Dina, you rule!! Congratulations, way to go fighting for your rights. XOXOX Love you, Pamela

02.27.12 - 2:26 pm

Amanda - Good for you Dina! If more of us stood together over our rights then maybe this would happen less. I feel the same about artists and musicians…..the creative arts seem to be a “free for all” but no one would walk into a store and take stuff off the shelves and expect to get off scott-free. It’s crazy how just a simple thing like putting your name on the remarkable first image, even out of respect for you helping them out, was such a big deal for them.

02.27.12 - 2:26 pm

Landon Finch - It is refreshing to see copyright fought for and protected. In this day and age copyright is often trampled and disregarded (if even considered in the first place). Well done Andrena and Carolyn!!!!

02.27.12 - 2:29 pm

Gina - It’s disheartening to hear that a well known artist would go to such lengths and follow regular practices of disregard for other artists rights. He had an opportunity to set an example but the example he chose was not a good one. Dina, your victory along with the recent news of the AP lawsuit will no doubt serve as a reminder that all artists rights are equal. Kudos!

02.27.12 - 2:45 pm

Ellen Wolff - Dina! You prevailed, and because of that you have turned the tide for everything that comes after this. I am sure we will start to see some change. Thank you.

02.27.12 - 2:59 pm

Kristen P. - I am glad you fought for your rights and your copyrights. Way to go, Dina!

02.27.12 - 3:09 pm

David Tucker - Perhaps one day Mr. Fairey will have the shock of his life and wake up to realize there are other people in the world beside himself. Until then we’ll have to rely upon the law, and people like you who stand up for themselves, as well as all of us. Love your work, and as always wishing you all the best.

02.27.12 - 3:17 pm

Kathy Rappaport - Dina, Thank you so much for all the effort you put into this. It is not just about the single incident of having an image stolen. It’s just as much about the entire process of copyright, derivative works and teaching the public that all photographers and artists must protect their work and that of others. We must also be proactive and remain vigilant to protect what is rightly ours.

02.27.12 - 3:24 pm

Christine - I just wrote on my personal blog about a news outlet in Houston crediting “Facebook” for photographs instead of the photographers. We *must* stand up for our rights! Kudos to you for staying strong and fighting this! I’m so glad you won!

02.27.12 - 3:28 pm

Danielle Richards - Dina, you honor all photographers by sticking up for your rights as creator of the image. I am dumbfounded that your very simple – and generous – usage terms were not met, and happy that you prevailed in the legal system.

02.27.12 - 3:47 pm

Greg - How nice, Fairey gave you the finger and you bent it around backwards and poked him in the eye with it.

Photoshopping can be art, but Photoshopping someone else’s art, doesn’t magically make it yours. Thank you for the effort.

02.27.12 - 3:50 pm

Tracy - I have no conflict in saying that Mr. Fairey is a sham. The term “transformative” may be subjective, but it can’t possibly mean merely changing the contrast and color of a photo and slapping the word “obey” onto it. Transformative *should* refer to subtext. Where is the meaning in his work? Of course we like it; he takes stunning images and erases any challenge from them. His portrait of Angela Davis can hang alongside Andre the Giant without disconnect because they have both been rendered generic, simplified to better hang above an Ikea sofa. And, his attitude is appalling. Clearly, his refusal to give credit was motivated by greed and narcissism. Since he has an obvious talent for picking out compelling images, why doesn’t he hang up his hat and open a gallery?

02.27.12 - 3:51 pm

Davy - I applaud you Dina. You asked for so little. He gave you nothing, except to treat you with contempt. Perhaps he saw your generosity as a sign of weakness. Stupid boy. :o) Well done for standing up for your (and every other photographers) rights.

02.27.12 - 4:06 pm

Rogier - Well done Dina. Thanks to his perjury and illegal behavior in the AP case, we’ve all learned this past week what a deceitful little weasel Mr. Fairey is. Your experiences with serve to remind us that that was simply business as usual for him. Good for you for standing up to this thieving swine. May his fortune go the way of his reputation.

02.27.12 - 5:04 pm

Peter Zack - Good for you Dina in standing up for your rights and prevailing in this case. It’s a strong message to all photographers everywhere to protect their work. In doing this, you’ve sent a strong message to these sham artists everywhere.

02.27.12 - 5:11 pm

Josh - Well Done Andrena. Great result!!!!!

02.27.12 - 5:36 pm

Martin Fitzpatrick - Good job Dina! Not easy to stand up for your rights. You would think an artist would know better.

02.27.12 - 6:16 pm

karin kelly burns - Thanks for standing up for all artists, musicians included. Efforts like yours keep us all honest. Your portrait is very beautiful. It’s a shame that a well known artist chose to rip you off and not be up front about his actions. Kudos to you.

02.27.12 - 6:37 pm

Stacey Doyle - Bravo Dina. I can only imagine how intense and frustrating this whole experience has been, thank you for taking on this fight!

02.27.12 - 7:32 pm

Sarah Dugan - Thank you, Dina, for continuing on with this fight, even when it became so dark and so hard. I will be using your story, along with others to make sure to educate the next generation on rights of ALL artists…

02.27.12 - 7:32 pm

Caitlin Lazo - Thank you so much for sharing and I’m so glad that it was ruled in your favor. I’m sure it wasn’t an easy battle and it shows so much class of you to keep it under wraps for 2 years until the ordeal was complete. Also a simply beautiful image to begin with!!

02.27.12 - 8:28 pm

Louise Conover - Cheers to you Dina on your triumphant win! Your perseverance is truly admirable and inspiring! I hope that photographers everywhere will be empowered to stand up and fight for their art! Your victory is a victory for all of us. Thank you!

02.27.12 - 9:23 pm

Jennifer Dery - Very well written Dina! Congrats on winning an extremely challenging case, and bigger congrats for not letting it ruin your upbeat outlook! Hugs, Jen

02.27.12 - 9:51 pm

Ellen Zaslaw - Dina, your grit is an inspiration. I bet this took a good bit out of you, first, with you suffering the indignity and the outrage, and second, with you reliving it over and over as you went through the process, and I’m sure devoting plenty of time to it. It would have been easier just to let it go. But in your highly principled way you *had* to pursue it. I’m sure the language you didn’t repeat here was choice: I admire your discretion throughout–your two years of silence and your measured way of getting the word out now. Intellectual property is the bread and butter of a great many people I know: I’ll tell them all.

02.27.12 - 10:00 pm

Coz - Congratulations Dina and thanks for sharing. Nice to know we don’t always just have to sit back and take it when people try to take advantage of us.

02.27.12 - 10:17 pm

Anna Kuperberg - Go Dina! I also recently hired Carolyn Wright to help with a copyright infringement and she was terrific!

02.27.12 - 10:38 pm

Anna Kuperberg - PS I like your photo a lot better than his print!

02.27.12 - 11:00 pm

inku - You are awesome. That Fairey guy is a douche.

02.27.12 - 11:12 pm

Flirt Photography - WOW! Kudos Dina on your work and on the graceful way you handled a tough situation. The original piece is simply gorgeous. I’m sorry credit was not given when promised and I applaud you for keeping a level head throughout this ordeal.

02.27.12 - 11:27 pm

Lynda Coulson - What an amazing story, thank you so much for sharing and well done for keeping your integrity throughout the process. It could have been very easy to go the other way I’m sure. The original image is beautiful.

02.28.12 - 12:04 am

Mirta Barnet - Joe and I just finished reading the post. Wow. You deserve every ounce of this sweet victory and we’re so glad that justice finally caught up with Mr. Fairey. Thank you for sharing your story. It is inspirational!

02.28.12 - 12:48 am

Justine - So proud of you my dear! Fairey is a true asshole & I hope the world forgets him as he rots in prison.

02.28.12 - 2:19 am

Sarah Cutright - Yay! I’m so glad this is finally over for you, Dina! Thank you for sharing and congratulations that justice prevailed for you! Your original image is stronger and more significant than his “pop art” version, btw.

02.28.12 - 3:10 am

James Boddington - Well done Dina!

02.28.12 - 4:24 am

Jayme Goetz - Thanks for fighting the fight for all us photographers.

02.28.12 - 5:27 am

John Henry - Good for you, Dina.

Shepard Fairey shouldn’t be any more or less well-respected that Paris Hilton or one of the Real Housewives. He had one (contextually clever, ultimately stupid) idea 20 years ago – itself probably stolen, and certainly an only slightly above-average example of what many thousands of punk and indie kids with their zines were doing in the day – and has been milking it relentlessly ever since, through countless iterations that were always predictable by anyone who paid attention to what more inventive people were doing in related fields.

He’s a first-rate smug, art-damaged prick though, and since that’s such a lucrative gig nowadays he’s done just fine. It should be so easy for any of us to attract dollars and adoration for attaching ourselves to the latest fashionable cause, stealing someone else’s artwork, creating a high-contrast copy of it, and selling it at auction.

02.28.12 - 5:38 am

John Henry - Also: screw him for cutting off your raw and beautiful portrait just above her breasts and scars. It makes his version look like just another neutered image of a punk chick and steals the honesty and bravery from the image you created. Shutting up now.

02.28.12 - 5:59 am

Dawn - Congratulations! Thanks for sharing this story.

02.28.12 - 6:01 am

karl bratby - well done for standing up for what is right, after much stress you can now relax, i do like the piece of art that he created, though he seems like not a nice person do deal with

02.28.12 - 7:28 am

Jay Hoque - What an idiot! Its appalling to think an artist would stoop to that level against another artist. Good on you for fighting this Dina. Congratulations on the outcome.

02.28.12 - 7:40 am

Michael Diblicek - A very interesting read, glad you posted this.

02.28.12 - 8:13 am

Paul Gero - Thanks for sharing this Dina, and thanks for all you did to win this case. I’m very grateful that you endured the legal wranglings–as a photographer I appreciate your efforts to protect your original work and the terms of your agreement.


02.28.12 - 8:40 am

Lukas Agelastos - I loved the original photo and I am glad you won the case. Good work Dina. Regards from Greece. Lukas

02.28.12 - 8:47 am

john Michael Cooper - So glad this fell in your favor. So proud that you fought it out for yourself and for the rest of us who are sometimes afraid to step up to defend our images and rights..

02.28.12 - 11:16 am

Dina - I am floored by all the incredible support I’ve received from all of you, and from my colleagues around the world. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. Please feel free to tweet, repost and/or blog this story. I’m so happy that this situation has reminded us all that photographers do have rights, and that they are worth fighting for. Dina

02.28.12 - 11:48 am

cindy harter sims - WELL DONE !! Go you for sticking up for ALL of us !!! The more that stand up the less there will be a need to do so !!!

02.28.12 - 12:58 pm

Melissa Fitzpatrick - Thank you Dina for standing up for your rights. I’m sure it would have been much easier for you to just give in and it was a long difficult battle but one that needed to be done. Congratulations and good job.

02.28.12 - 1:17 pm

Ann Hamilton - Congrats, Dina, for standing up for your rights and bringing awareness to such an important issue.

02.28.12 - 1:45 pm

Jillian - I am so sorry that you had to go through all of this for what was supposed to be a good cause! It looks as though your heart was completely in the right place while others were looking to profit.

Good for you for standing up for the recognition that you deserve. Hopefully this will be a cautionary tale to other would be thieves who try to pass off their “art” as completely their own. Nice work girl, kudos.

02.28.12 - 2:03 pm

Kristin - Bless your words, bless your heart. Thank you!!!!

02.28.12 - 2:07 pm

James - Photographer - Thank you for going to battle for us.

02.28.12 - 2:13 pm

kym skiles - Bravo, Dina! I’m sorry you were in this situation but I applaud your stance and following through with getting the recognition that you deserved from the beginning. I can’t wrap my head around why someone wouldn’t honour the (very generous) usage agreement you requested. It would have been so simple to have given you credit and allowed you to take the photograph and avoided all this tomfoolery. *shakes head*

02.28.12 - 5:22 pm

Phil Nunez - A beautiful and striking image. And a great ending to what sounded like a pretty tough spell, well done you for fighting your corner and winning.

02.28.12 - 6:03 pm

Dancer Burns - You make me proud to be a photographer, Dina. You’re an impressive artist and an impressive person. Thank you for standing your ground and setting an excellent precedent for those of us who may some day follow. I can only imagine how grueling a journey it must have been. Cheers to you!

02.28.12 - 8:37 pm

John - Thank you for your post and for not letting him get away with this kind of behavior. Hopefully others will do the same: Shepard Fairey is a douchebag and this probably won’t be the last time someone sues him for his thievery.

02.28.12 - 9:47 pm

Jessica Brooks - Dina,
Thank you for sharing this incredible story and for fighting for your right as a photographer. Efforts like yours help all of us.
– jessica

02.28.12 - 10:45 pm

Roy Llera - I am so proud of you and the graceful position that you took ~ Congratulations!

02.29.12 - 6:05 am

mary crow - Wow, Dina! I am so glad justice prevailed.

02.29.12 - 8:20 am

Philip Flowers - Bravo for taking a stand! You’ve helped set a path where others are reluctant to travel.

02.29.12 - 9:31 am

jen wilson - Good for you Dina!! I have always been so impressed with you, everything you do, you do with class and grace.

jen :)

02.29.12 - 10:27 am

Debrah Woods - Good for you!! It takes a lot of guts to fight for what’s right, especially in a world where true justice does not always prevail. Thank you for having the guts to fight and I am thankful that in your case, justice did prevail! Beautiful image!

02.29.12 - 3:12 pm

David j Perkins - congratulations for sticking at it…

you did all the right things and should have your credit.

from an artistic standing I prefer your photograph, there is only a diluted truth in painting the soul is missing.

02.29.12 - 10:10 pm

Lou Cuevas - Just adding my own applause to the standing ovation you richly deserve. We all need positive examples such as this to fight the common impression that photographers will not defend their rights. Rock on !

02.29.12 - 10:52 pm

Martin Corona - Dina,

Thank you for sharing.

As I grow older I an increasingly finding how reluctant people are to fight for their rights. I can’t get my own sister to file a complaint with OSHA for very clear violations at her workplace. Sometimes it’s easier to let it go and save yourself time and stress. It’s nice to read about someone successfully standing up for themselves. I’m sure there was a point when you had to make a choice if it was worth the time and energy or just let it go and move on. You made the right choice.

03.01.12 - 3:50 am

Hannes Uys - What inspirational stuff Andrena! Sublime.

03.01.12 - 9:54 am

Michelle DeBakey - Good for you, and thank you for fighting for your rights.

03.01.12 - 10:03 am

Kelvyn Peralta - I think Fairey need to revisit his “fair use” ideas, come on all you had asked for was credits and to photograph the final piece… lord!!. I am glad you won this “unfair” use of your work. A good book for Fairey to read could be “Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars” or Copyright’s Highway”…

03.01.12 - 5:50 pm

Melissa Pfannenstiel ~ Kansas City Wedding Photographer~ - Thank you for sharing, I am so glad it worked out!

03.02.12 - 6:24 am

Ellen Sassen - Dina, I remember how touched I was when I first saw this series of images. Gorgeous and moving. It’s sad when others, especially other artists, do not respect us and our art. Your license terms were fair and reasonable and more importantly, Fairey agreed with them. Whatever reason Fairey had for not meeting your terms, it is totally inexcusable. I’m happy you stood up for yourself – and the rest of us by doing so – and won. Hugs!

03.03.12 - 6:12 am

Woods Hole Inn - GOOD FOR YOU for writing about this so eloquently. His piece is nothing without your moving photograph. I used to be a fan of SF, and I admire the Obama poster, but theft and subterfuge are not required to make art. Your terms were very generous — I fear SF is morally bankrupt. Too bad becuase he is talented. -Beth

03.03.12 - 12:05 pm

Anna - Thank you for sharing your story. As an artist (basically unknown at this point), I often use both my own photography and that of others for my work. I do ask permission. There are photos I’ve wanted very very badly to use that I either get a “no”, or no response from the photographer. That’s their prerogative, and in my eyes, means that it’s either not for me or not the right time.

03.04.12 - 11:09 am
03.05.12 - 10:54 am

Louise Donahue - Congratulations Dina, I just can’t imagine why Fairey wouldn’t want to share with real life contributors, Your fight with cancer certainly would do everything to enhance the authenticity of his work, now he just appears mercenary. I guess he doesn’t get it…

03.05.12 - 2:16 pm

Jordan - Dina this an amazing and inspiring story to hear as a photographer. To me I have had similar issues along these matters. I just don’t understand how artists are so reluctant when it comes to simple/proper credit. Mr. Danzinger summed it up very well though for sure! I feel every photographer should read this and be able to stand up for your rights no matter who you’re dealing with. I admire your patience and fight on this particular situation. Thank you again for sharing this!!

03.05.12 - 9:06 pm

Andrew - I’ve been a fan of Shepard’s for a long time. But with each story that appears like this, I’ve completely lost all respect for him. He has eroded his integrity as an artist in one quick dumbass move. How hard is it to credit people!

I now have about 10 pieces of his work that I would like to delete from my art collection…

03.06.12 - 6:26 am

Dajuan Jones - You are truly awesome in so many ways. Your willingness to fight for what is near and dear to your heart is extremely admirable.

03.07.12 - 12:32 pm

Farah - Good for you!Congratulations on your well fought fight and victory.

03.08.12 - 6:59 am

butters - and yet more proof that Shepard Fairey is a Class A douche.

03.08.12 - 11:12 am

John Fowler - Well done and sincerely appreciated by all honest photographers. Your contribution to our society is significant.

03.09.12 - 2:50 pm

Eric - Congrats! Way to stand up and fight. Thanks for sharing too. Hopefully it will inspire others to fight for their art, and deter the thieves from taking undue credit. By the way, your work rocks!

03.09.12 - 3:44 pm

Leo Dj - Dina, so sorry that this happened to you, but I’m glad that you found out, fought, and win! However, this might be a blessing in disguise. This case had made your work well known! :)

03.10.12 - 5:28 pm

Ian Ivey - As a wedding photographer and a lawyer, I’m very pleased that you reached an acceptable settlement, and that you took the steps necessary to protect your intellectual property rights. It sometimes surprises me how many artists hold shallow understandings of intellectual property rights, or simply misunderstand them, or — worst — flout them knowingly. Congratulations.

03.14.12 - 5:17 pm

Joni Schrantz - Absolutely stunning!

03.29.12 - 1:07 am

Sierra Blanco Photography - Thank you for this posting … we couldn’t agree more! We too had a situation a few years ago where a groom we photographed was murdered very soon after the wedding. It became a very high profile case that went international. The media took a photo from our blog and began circulating it everywhere (magazines, TV, etc.) Carolyn E. Wright was also our attorney and she fought and won for us as well. It is important that our work as photographers and our copyright be respected! We are glad you fought and rightfully won your case!

04.21.12 - 6:42 am

Tyrone Crossman - Well done Dina!! It’s about time we photographers took a stand on such issues. Similar things have happened to me from time to time in the past and I’ve just let it slide. But now, having read your post, you have given me the inspiration to grab the lion by the mane, should it ever happen again!!

09.11.12 - 8:30 am

Jim Whitesell - Dina, Mr. Fairey’s actions prove his is dishonest and a liar. Hopefully your case (and the AP lawsuit, which he lost) will diminish his status in the art world. You’ve done much to help photographers everywhere understand their rights as artists and creators. Thank you.

03.18.13 - 6:17 pm - {Such a good post. I love your reception shots. Thanks a ton for posting.|

03.19.13 - 9:45 am

Tom Harmon - Really like your work. Tremendously inspiring. Your reception images are fantastic!

03.01.14 - 5:12 pm

Mathew - Incredible work!

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