Obama "HOPE" Photog, AP Drop Claims Against Each Other

By LARRY NEUMEISTER
|  Saturday, Aug 21, 2010  |  Updated 9:45 AM EDT
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A poster of President Barack Obama, right, by artist Shepard Fairey is shown for comparison with this April 27, 2006 file photo of then-Sen. Barack Obama by Associated Press photographer Mannie Garcia at the National Press Club in Washington.

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A photographer who took a picture that the Barack Obama "HOPE" image was based on dropped his claim Friday that he owns the copyright to the photograph, instead of The Associated Press. The AP also dropped its claim against him.

The stipulation between the AP, photographer Mannie Garcia, and artist Shepard Fairey and his related companies was filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, where a judge is presiding over a legal fight to decide whether Fairey infringed AP copyrights when he based his artwork on the AP's photograph during Obama's 2008 run for the presidency.

Garcia, 56, of Kensington, Md., said he owned the copyright to the picture after Fairey sued the news cooperative last year, saying his creations did not infringe AP copyrights. In a countersuit, the AP said the uncredited, uncompensated use of its picture violated copyright laws and threatened journalism.

Garcia's attorney, Warren Zinn, said his client was relieved to drop the lawsuit, which resulted from a picture Garcia took in 2006 when then-Sen. Obama was at the National Press Club in Washington.

"As litigation can, it's taken a toll on him personally and professionally. He thought he'd be better suited to focus his efforts on what he knows, taking photographs like the Obama image," he said.

Zinn said his client, currently a freelance photographer, has shot photographs worldwide, including in Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Sarajevo and Haiti. "He's got nothing but positive feelings toward the AP and their role in the media," he said.

Claudia Ray, an AP lawyer, said the news cooperative had no immediate comment.

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