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Obama "Hope" Artist Gets Probation

The artist who created the "Hope" poster of President Barack Obama was sentenced to probation on Friday after pleading guilty to three vandalism charges in Boston. Prosecutors dropped 11 other charges.

Shepard Fairey was sentenced in Boston Municipal Court to two years probation. He pleaded guilty to one charge of defacing property and two charges of wanton destruction of property under $250.

The 39-year-old Los Angeles artist also must pay $2,000 to a graffiti removal organization and cannot possess tagging materials except for legal art installations.

"I believe in the importance of making art accessible through many avenues, and I will continue to advocate the use of legal public spaces for meaningful artistic expression and communication," Fairey said in a statement. "Freedom of expression is the bedrock of our democracy. However, I also believe it is important that people respect private property and do not use it without the authorization of the owner."

Fairey was arrested in February when he was in Boston for an event kicking off a solo exhibit at the Institute of Contemporary Art. The arrest came three days after he failed to appear in court on a charge of placing a poster on a Boston electrical box in September 2000.

In the plea deal, he admitted to the 2000 incident and two others this past January: placing a sticker on the back of a traffic sign, and placing a poster on a private condominium building.

Fairy faces no further vandalism charges in Suffolk County. Boston prosecutors had already dropped 14 charges claiming he placed stickers on public property.

He plans to return to Boston on July 31 to attend a closing party at the ICA for his exhibit, which ends Aug. 16.

In a separate case, Fairey and The Associated Press have sued each other over the "Hope" poster, which Fairey's lawyers acknowlege was derived from a photo taken for the AP.

The AP has said his uncredited and uncompensated use of the image violates copyright laws. Fairey says he didn't violate copyright law because he dramatically changed the image.