Ethics in Graphic Design: 2B

2B) After reading the Shepard Fairey lawsuit, it makes me feel more aware of the type of images I use as a designer. It does remind me of the dangers and consequences that designers can face, for something as simple as using an image. During Obama’s presidential campaign, he used an image from Barack Obama and transformed it. It was a good poster design and he made some money out of it.

However, once he found the original photographer, he tried to hide it. I believe that he failed as a designer in one key important rule within the industry. Not only was this the wrong thing to do, but it was very unethical as a designer and and as person. He should have given credit to the photographer of the Obama photo that he used, nor did he attain the rights of the image. He didn’t buy the image for it to become an exclusive image for the company to use. If he did buy the image, making it an exclusive image, he could have done as he wishes to the image since it is now under his ownership, which means others wouldn’t be able to use it. However this was not the case and caused legal damages.

Additionally to not giving credit, he made things worse by filing a lawsuit to The Associated Press. As Randy Kennedy says, “In his suit Mr. Fairey claimed he had used a different photograph, but later admitted that he had been mistaken and had tried to cover up his mistake” (Kennedy). Shepard Fairey was already in pretty hot water before, but now him trying to cover up his mistake is making things worse for him.

In the end, Shepard Fairey said he was ashamed of his actions. This definitely made an impact back then and is still being talked about in today’s world, as a reminder for future designers. As The Associated Press 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” (Kennedy).

The Associated Press and many more hope it helps more designers be aware of this issue. Designers should know that they should always credit the artist’s work. Finding the right images for your design is always a good relief, but it can also be scary if one isn’t careful and doesn’t follow the guidelines. 

Kennedy, Randy. “Shepard Fairey Is Fined and Sentenced to Probation in ‘Hope’ Poster Case.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 7 Sept. 2012,