Ethics in Graphic Design 2

COMD 4900 Internship

Ethics in Graphic Design

2a) Past work and giving credit

Based on the AIGA readings, there have been some considerations taken into account. I plan on using certain images for the internship in the promotional designs I want to use, and one of the articles discusses stock photography.

“The use of pre-existing images is another possibility for the designer. Use of stock images avoids the many contractual issues that may arise when photography is done on assignment.”

AIGA Business Ethics: Use of Photography

The images I source come from, where they provide images that are free to use in our designs and works. I’ve used that site many times to find images to use in my work and every time a picture is downloaded they encourage us to attribute the artist by giving a shoutout on social media or by adding some text to the work files. And the image data also has the name of the photographer on it to make it easier to give credit.

Now in the past I have always had that information in the back of my head, but I haven’t really done much attribution when finishing my designs, but I always saw it as a school project and since I wasn’t making any money out of it or selling any designs I always saw it as OK to not give attribution, especially since I don’t really post it anywhere online either. But moving forward it would be prudent to give credit where its due, and especially if I plan on using these types of images for professional work.

Vacation Destination Picture
A picture found on Unsplash that I plan on using for the internship by photographer Josh Hild


Crawford, Tad. “Use of Photography.” Design Business and Ethics, American Institute of Graphic Arts, New York, NY, 2007, pp. 90–95.

Research foundations: Find & attribute images. LibGuides. (n.d.). Retrieved June 9, 2022, from

2b) Fairey Copyright Case

The Fairey case was intense, with the arguments from the AP and the photographer Mannie Garcia being quite convincing, such as the picture being very creative on Garcia’s part and contained “original features” that made Obama look heroic, and when Fairey used this picture as a reference he did so improperly. But I feel like the biggest problem was when Fairey tried to hide the evidence of his mistakes, especially since he knew that he had made a mistake by thinking the image he chose was another one. By fabricating evidence and hiding what he had I feel like he made a huge mistake that, if they hadn’t settled, could have resulted in some serious repercussions for him and quite possibly for other designers as well. Fairey’s decision to come clean once it was discovered he had been lying is respectable, since he did not want his employee who had discovered his attempt to hide the evidence to go along with the lie and instead asked the employee to release the information. That was a great ethical decision that redeemed him somewhat in my opinion, although he should not have done so in the first place.

The case itself shows just how complex copyright can get, with many requirements needed to be met in order to have a copyright be enforceable, while at the same time showing how designers also have their work be protected by copyrights as well. An article by Columbia Law School highlights just how close it could have been for both sides if they had continued litigation. Fair Use was an argument by Fairey that pointed out that the image used didn’t necessarily have original features, that instead it used a very popular pose that was used by photographers to capture pictures of presidents before, while the AP argued that no picture was free from being affected from the photographers personal influence.

The settlement that they came to stated that Shepard Fairey wouldn’t use anymore AP images without first buying a license for the photos and the AP would work with Fairey and have the rights to create merchandise with the Hope poster. It worked out well for both parties in the end, but it was a case that highlights how nuanced copyright and fair use laws can be and how it can lead to a great deal of problems for all parties involved.


Fisher III, William W., Frank Cost, Shepard Fairey, and Meir Feder. “Reflections on the hope poster case.” Harv. JL & Tech. 25 (2011): 243.

“Obama Hope Poster Lawsuit Settlement a Good Deal for Both Sides, Says Kernochan Center Director.” Columbia Law School, Accessed 9 June 2022.


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