The Associated Press has sent a cease-and-desist letter to George Zimmerman’s attorney, arguing a painting he released of the special prosecutor who charged him with the murder of Trayvon Martin was copied directly from an AP photo.
“George Zimmerman clearly directly copied an AP photo to create his painting of Florida State Attorney Angela Corey,” the AP’s Director of Media Relations, Paul Colford, told TPM Friday in an e-mailed statement. “The AP has sent a cease-and-desist letter asserting its copyright in the photo to the lawyer who recently represented Zimmerman. That lawyer has responded, and though she no longer represents Mr. Zimmerman, she will be forwarding the letter to him today.”
The AP photographer who took the photo of Corey, Rick Wilson, is being represented by Jacksonville attorney John Phillips, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
“If you’ve seen the two photos, it’s identical,” Philips told the Sentinel, adding: “You just can’t do that. You just can’t take somebody else’s work and make it your own.”
Phillips told the newspaper that if Zimmerman moves forward with plans to sell the image, the next step in the process would be to file suit against him together with the AP.
In a similar case, the AP got involved in a lawsuit with street artist Shepard Fairey after arguing he used an AP photo to create his iconic 2008 “Hope” poster of President Barack Obama. At issue was whether Fairey’s poster was a “transformative” use of the AP’s image, and therefore a legal form of creative expression. The two parties ultimately agreed to a settlement, but the financial terms were not disclosed.
Below is the original AP photo, taken by Wilson:
This post has been updated.