In a surprising pre-emptive strike, Shepard Fairey filed a lawsuit on Monday against The Associated Press, asking a judge to declare that he is protected from copyright infringement claims on “fair use” basis (the AP is the owner of the original photo shot by freelance photographer Mannie Garcia). Shepard’s lawyer is arguing that he used the photograph only as a reference and transformed it into a “stunning, abstracted and idealized visual image that created powerful new meaning and conveys a radically different message.” The AP is arguing that they are due a portion of all proceeds Fairey makes from his commercial usage of the image. Stay tuned. Will be an interesting case that will clarify earlier court rulings. Let’s just say legal history is not really on SF’s side here, and ‘fair use’ exceptions are pretty clearly defined. Watch this space for more updates.