NEW YORK, Feb 24 (Reuters) - The artist who created an iconic portrait of Barack Obama based on an Associated Press image pleaded guilty on Friday to a criminal misdemeanor charge, admitting he lied about which image he had used.
Los Angeles based street artist Shepard Fairey, 42, became an international celebrity after he created the red, white and blue Obama "Hope" poster, which became the iconic image of Obama's 2008 presidential campaign.
At Friday's hearing, he told a Manhattan federal court magistrate judge that he had violated another judge's order by deleting records and lying about what photograph his image had been based on.
"Violating the court's trust was the worst thing I have done in my life," Fairey said.
Fairey pleaded guilty to one count of criminal contempt, which carries up to six-months in prison.
The dispute over the "Hope" poster began when Fairey pre-emptively sued AP in February 2009 seeking a ruling that his work was protected from AP's potential claims over the copyright of the original photograph of Obama. AP then countersued for copyright infringement.
After it was discovered that some of Fairey's records had been improperly deleted, he admitted that he had intentionally lied about which photograph he had based his poster on.
He was charged because deleting his files and altering them was a violation of an order by the federal judge overseeing the civil dispute with AP. The judge said both parties must share all documents with the other side.
In January last year, AP and Fairey settled their copyright dispute.
The image of then-senator Obama that Fairey based his poster on was taken by AP photographer Mannie Garcia at a panel discussion at the National Press Club in April 2006.
Fairey is scheduled to be sentenced on July 16.
(Reporting By Basil Katz)
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