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UPDATE: Our friend Dave Levy, who blogs at Most Likely to Die Alone [best blog name ever] has a great post on what exactly “fair use” is, and why the AP might get raked over the coals for this.

In a shocking turn of events, the Associated Press is looking to get heavily compensated because they claim one of their photographs was compromised and used without permission.

Strangely enough, the image in question just so happens to be the most recognizable piece of artwork in the world – “a pensive Barack Obama looking upward, as if to the future, splashed in a Warholesque red, white and blue and underlined with the caption HOPE.”

The AP says it owns the copyright, and wants credit and compensation. [nice timing]

“The Associated Press has determined that the photograph used in the poster is an AP photo and that its use required permission,” the AP’s director of media relations, Paul Colford, said in a statement.

What the AP hasn’t been truthful about is why they waited so long to contact the artist who used the photograph.

“AP safeguards its assets and looks at these events on a case-by-case basis. We have reached out to Mr. Fairey’s attorney and are in discussions. We hope for an amicable solution.”

A case by case basis, huh?  We hardly think so.  It’s financially abundantly clear that the AP new that they were going to raise hell about this for quite some time.  But they also knew if they approached the matter early, it wouldn’t mean much of a pay day.  Instead, the key to financial success in this particular case, once the image went global, was to keep quiet and wait until millions of dollars were made off of it and then wave the copyright red flag.  They’re not dumb, they just think everybody else is.