I'm catching this conversation late; the initial discussion about fair use began in December 2007. Where the hell was I? Well, Fairey had yet to make any ripples with the Obama HOPE piece, so I had no reason to throw this into the Legal Dept. Now that Fairey and AP are battling out the legalities of "fair use" (I use quotations because codifying things can always be a bit sticky), Phantom Street Artist has also thrown his hat in the ring on this, bringing another angle to the onging narrative of re-use, street art, advertising, capitalism, etc.
I admit that I miss things here and there. I'm not online enough!
I'm trying to keep my opinions to myself. Blame it on my journalistic integrity. I can say a few things: I'm glad that people are bringing up these issues, though Fairey has been re-using images and icons for years. I've never compared and contrasted the original radical/political art side-by-side with Fairey's work until now, and am a bit disappointed at how uncreative he comes off. And, like you all don't know this: Fairey is an A Number One Hustler. So much so that OBEY is now a booming brand and he's one of the most famous street artists in the world. I heard that he makes people pay to sign the Obama HOPE posters. ka-ching!
OK, enough of my opinions. How about some thoughts from other folks*:
Josh MacPhee commented further after Vallen's post over on Just Seeds
Here's a re-telling of Phantom Street Artists's beef(s) with Fairey in March 2009
*I also encourage you to read all the comments at the bottom of these posts. Someone in France wrote about it, and other artists had things to add to this ongoing conversation.