Photo by Associated Press, Mannie Garcia, Poster by Shepard Fairey

Talk about coming full-circle, the AP today announced that they, and legendary street artist Shepard Fairey, have come to an agreement regarding the Barack Obama “Hope” photo that caused such turmoil regarding copyright infringement and artists’ usage of images back in February, 2009.

Both parties have agreed to settle their copyright infringement claims (both had sued each other) and instead, now will be working together: AP is planning to supply authorized images for Shepard to work with towards creating new art. Both the AP and Shepard have decided to split profits of posters and merchandise bearing the Obama image and have reached a financial settlement.

Associated Press photo of Shepard Fairey with Obama Hope Collage.

The settlement however does not yet include ending AP’s copyright infringement lawsuit for Shepard’s brand, Obey Clothing, which is scheduled for a trial in March. (Obey Clothing was on-site at the recent Agenda show and revealed an excellent full collection of denim, graphic T-shirts, button-downs, and accessories for the Fall/Winter 2011. As usual, their booth was busy with buyers both days of the show.)

According to the AP, “In papers filed last week, the AP directed arguments at the remaining defendant, Obey Clothing, saying the case presents “the straightforward question of whether a T-shirt company may use a nearly verbatim copy of a copyrighted image to generate millions in dollars of revenues for itself without securing the permission of the copyright owner.”

So, the story isn’t completely over, but it does beg the question of where art and images collide, and the roll it all plays for graphic T-shirt apparel companies in the future. At least regarding art from AP photos.

According to Shepard’s site, “I am pleased to have resolved the dispute with the Associated Press. I respect the work of photographers, as well as recognize the need to preserve opportunities for other artists to make fair use of photographic images. I often collaborate with photographers in my work, and I look forward to working with photos provided by the AP’s talented photographers.”