Shepard Fairey will not be coming up with the world's greatest prison bootleg wheatpaste recipe—the street artist has avoided jail time. This morning Manhattan federal Magistrate Judge Frank Maas "rejected prosecution arguments that Fairey should endure 'some deprivation of liberty' for destroying documents and manufacturing fake evidence in a civil suit over the image," according to the NY Post. However, Fairey did leave with a little more than a slap on the wrist—he was sentenced to two years of probation, 300 hours of community service and a $25,000 fine. During the proceedings, Fairey's ongoing battle against Type 1 diabetes was noted, which his lawyer said could not be properly treated in jail. Fairey released a statement on his website. It says, in part:
"I accept full responsibility for violating the Court’s trust by tampering with evidence during my civil case with the Associated Press, which, after my admitting to engaging in this conduct, led to this criminal case by the Southern District of New York. I accept the Judge’s sentence and look forward to finally putting this episode behind me. My wrong-headed actions, born out of a moment of fear and embarrassment, have not only been financially and psychologically costly to myself and my family, but also helped to obscure what I was fighting for in the first place—the ability of artists everywhere to be inspired and freely create art without reprisal.
I believed, and still believe, that I had a very strong Fair Use case, which I could have prevailed. There was no intent to deceive on my part at the outset. When I discovered that the photo I had referenced was indeed the one the AP argued it was and not the one I thought I had used, I was embarrassed and scared to admit they were right and I was wrong even though it would not have had a material bearing on my case. Not amending the record was a big mistake and short-sighted. My actions damaged my ability to proceed effectively with my case and allowed the AP to focus on my credibility. I regret my actions every day and those who know me well know it is out of character."
Fairey goes on to say that he "let down artists and advocates for artist’s rights by distracting from the core Fair Use discussion" with his actions. For their part, the AP's President and CEO Gary Pruitt has released this statement:
"After spending a great amount of time, energy and legal effort, all of us at The Associated Press are glad this matter is finally behind us. We hope this case will serve as a clear reminder to all of the importance of fair compensation for those who gather and produce original news content."