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New Hope for Shepard Fairey as Judge OKs Change in Legal Team

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On Tuesday a federal judge had ruled in street artist Shepard Fairey's favor to change legal representation.

The Associated Press (AP) filed papers in a Manhattan federal court asking the Judge to deny the request due to the "unique knowledge" Fairey's attorneys had of the case and that any changes would cause "undue delay."

AP has been battling the artist over his use of their source photograph taken during a press event in 2006 depicting a solo image of then Senator Barack Obama which was displayed in Fairey's iconic "HOPE" and "PROGRESS" poster series during the 2008 presidential campaign.

Fairey maintained his use of a different photograph taken by the same photographer, Mannie Garcia, and claimed his work was protected by the Fair Use Doctrine. The controversial case took a sudden twist when Fairey later admitted lying and that the photo used in the poster was in fact the photo AP asserted - a head shot of Barack Obama and not a photograph taken with George Clooney where the actor is cropped out. In February of this year, Fairey filed a counter lawsuit against the AP seeking a declaratory judgment which would declare protection from copyright infringement claims in his use of the news photograph.

Anthony Falzone of Stanford University's Fair Use Project initially intended to withdraw as counsel but instead expressed his intention to do so at the appropriate time. Fairey's new legal representation will be Geoffrey Stewart and Meir Feder of the Jones Day law firm and William Fisher, director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University.

U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein does not expect further delays in the proceedings and sees a potential trail date set for early summer. The next hearing is scheduled for March 5.