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US prosecutors say they will seek jail for Shepard Fairey after the artist pleaded guilty to destroying and fabricating evidence in a lawsuit with The Associated Press.
NEW YORK — The artist who created the iconic image of President Barack Obama emblazoned with the word “Hope” pleaded guilty today in federal court here to criminal charges of contempt, admitting to destroying and fabricating evidence as part of a lawsuit with The Associated Press, according to the AP.
Fairey had earlier admitted to the actions as a result of a 2009 lawsuit he brought against the news agency seeking a declarative finding that he had not violated AP copyright by using news agency photos as the basis for his image.
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"Violating the court's trust was the worst thing I have ever done in my life," Fairey, 42, was quoted as saying. "I was ashamed as I did all these things, and I remain ashamed."
According to The AM Law Daily, Fairey and the AP settled the lawsuit a year ago.
The website said that the AP had countersued and learned during discovery that Fairey had destroyed computer files and created new ones to cover this up. According to the AP, Fairey and the news agency agreed that Fairey would obtain licenses for the use of AP content in the future and the two sides agreed to collaborate on future projects.
US Attorney Preet Bharara was quoted as saying in a statement that Fairey “went to extreme lengths to obtain an unfair and illegal advantage in his civil litigation.”
Perhaps in hopes of leniency, Fairey offered no objection: "I was and am ashamed that I had done these things, and I knew I should have corrected my actions, but as time passed I found it more and more difficult to admit my actions," he was quoted as saying by the AP.
Magistrate Judge Frank Maas rejected prosecutors' request that bail be set at $100,000, saying Fairey represented a “very low” flight risk, according to the AP.
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Assistant US Attorney Daniel Levy told Judge Maas that the US would ask for “some term of imprisonment.”
Sentencing is set for July 16.