Yes We Can Use this Picture?

The Washington Post’s Reliable Source alerts us to another case which will revisit the fair use of photography question: Furor over Obama Puff Piece.


The folks over at NORML have manipulated a vintage photo of the President smoking a cigarette so that it looks more like a spleef, and under the headline “Yes We Cannabis” have created a memorable 2009 conference poster.  The photograph was used without the permission of the photograph’s author, who is irritated. NORML exec. director Allen St. Pierre states in NORML’s defense: “our lawyers thought it was adulterated enough to comply with the fair use laws.”  In the wake of Shepard Fairey, I suppose fair use is still to be determined, though this photograph was manipulated much less than the one in question in the Fairey vs. AP suit. What do you think? Should NORML be allowed to appropriate an image and use it in a manner clearly not the way it was originally intended to be used?

Oh, yeah, and you can buy it too. here.


2 thoughts on “Yes We Can Use this Picture?

  1. The folks at NORML must have been sampling their hero-herb when they decided to appropriate without contact or compensation.

    The threshold should be like a police line-up, only with images. If the photographer can identify his (altered) image, it is not fair use.


  2. Not a lawyer, but this doesn’t seem to qualify for fair use. It’s not really a commentary on the original source material, but a straight repurposing. I mean, all they’ve done is swap out the cigarette for a joint and tone it weed-green.


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