“So… many of you know that I believe in the power of art to shed light on politics and encourage people to investigate issues further. You may also know that I’m passionate about eliminating the corrupting influence of money in politics. I want democracy to work for everyone, not just the wealthy and powerful. Well, bam!… the unPAC campaign is an opportunity to bring art and ant-corruption activism together. Please check it out and help to create and spread some great art while inspiring the restoration of democracy! This competition is about empowering people to take back control of their democracy, not from one party or another, but from the influx of money that has concentrated political power in the hands of the few. It’s about using art to push back against the existing power structures in our society and inspiring real change”. -Shepard
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After seeing my Sarah Siverman voter suppression post, RJ Rushmore from Vandalog told me about a site that clearly explains the voter ID requirements in each state. VoterID.me is the site to check out. Voting is extremely important despite the inherent flaws in the two party system. Make sure you have what you need to vote and please exercise your right to weigh in by voting!
Sarah Silverman is smart, funny, and gives a sh*t… all qualities that I admire and are thoroughly demonstrated in her video response to Republican voter suppression tactics. WARNING: there are some bad words in the video, so if you have sensitive ears you may want to avoid this video and the real world in general. Life with those monks who don’t speak might be your best future option. For those unafraid of dealing with the real world with its language and PROBLEMS, please check out this video.
Go to Let my People Vote for more information
More than two years ago we read Jane Mayer’s article in the New Yorker about two billionaire brothers who were using their money to change the course of our country. With the help of thousands of supporters like you we started production on a series of short videos that eventually became the full length documentary Koch Brothers Exposed.
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Moby is an acquaintance and he shared his personal take on Mitt Romney’s comments about 47% of the country supporting Obama because they depend on government assistance. Moby’s story is similar to many people’s even if his success is extraordinary compared to most. Moby is very generous to charities and progressive in his politics… he is compassionate and understands the struggles of the common person. So do I. I never got any govt. assistance, but I lived at the poverty level the first ten years of my art career. I had no health insurance, so any complication from my diabetes would have sent me to a govt. medical program, or I would have ended up in so much debt I would have needed food stamps. A lot of people are one illness or layoff away from govt. assistance, not because they are lazy or parasitic. I worked my ass off, but was still poor. However, I was laying the groundwork for the success I would achieve later. That success has allowed me to pay a lot in taxes. Check out Moby’s story.
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As some people may know, I’m an advocate of immigration policy reform. The United States is a relatively new country that was founded by immigrants and for years welcomed immigrants. When creating the art inspired by Neil Young’s cover of Woody Guthrie’s song “This Land Is Your Land” I wanted to comment on the current attitudes toward immigration and highlight a lost verse from the song. That verse goes:
As I went walkin’ I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said “No Trespassing”
But on the other side it didn’t say nothing
That side was made for you and me
There is humor and profound commentary in that verse. Woody Guthrie was a champion of the the least powerful people in society and pointed out class inequality and abuse of power. Some people called Guthrie “socialist”, I call him compassionate.
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Here are to 2 documents regarding my Civil Case that I feel are important to share. Both documents are public records and the blacked out sections are there to protect personal and private information of mine and other parties in the case. Once again thank you for your continued support.
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First of all, I would like to thank everyone who has supported me through this difficult time. Your thoughts, actions, and good will, have made a significant impact on my ability to move forward and close this chapter of my life. I am very grateful to my family, friends, fans, and supporters.
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 entered into litigation with the AP because I believe in Fair Use and I wanted to protect the rights of all artists. The Obama HOPE poster was created and distributed by a belief in what Obama could do for this country and my hope that I could inspire others to thought and action. Making money was never a part of the equation. As funds came in, I used them to create more posters and stickers and make donations to the Obama campaign. Most of the remaining proceeds were given to causes I support and believe in from the ACLU to Feeding America.
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.
Throughout my artistic career I have seen art as a powerful tool of political speech and social commentary and I try to use my art to stimulate a constructive dialogue. I believe in intellectual property rights and the rights of photographers, but I also believe artists need latitude to create inspired by real world things, just as news organizations need to use exception to copyright in order to report the news. The ability for an artist to creatively and conceptually transform references from reality is essential to their artistic commentary on the realities of the world. If artists find that freedom curtailed, it is not just artists, but all of us, who will lose something critically important.
The damage to my own reputation is dwarfed by the regret I feel for clouding the issues of the Fair Use case. I let down artists and advocates for artist’s rights by distracting from the core Fair Use discussion with my misdeeds. The decision today will, I hope, mark an ending to what, for me, has been a deeply regrettable chapter. But the larger principles at stake—Fair Use and Artists’ Freedom—are still in jeopardy, and I hope we will remain vigilant in depending on the Freedom of Expression.