Could the AP Sue George Zimmerman for Plagiarizing His Awful Painting?S

Yesterday, we told you about gun-control poster-boy George Zimmerman's latest foray into visual art: a Shepard Fairey-esque rendering of the woman who prosecuted Zimmerman for killing Trayvon Martin. He may have something else in common with Fairey: ripping off the Associated Press to make his masterpieces.

Multiple commenters pointed out that Zimmerman's infantile rendering of Florida State Attorney Angela Corey bears more than a passing resemblance to an AP photo of Corey from an April 11, 2012, press conference. We've placed the images side by side above; it appears Zimmerman used the identical angle and features caught in that image. And we all know how seriously the AP takes its images.

What's the big deal? Well, if Zimmerman plans to sell this painting as he did with an earlier one, he may run afoul of the AP's copyright on that image. And that's famously cost an artist before. Street artist and OBEY clothing-line designer Shepard Fairey vaulted to fame for his 2008 Barack Obama HOPE poster. But it turned out he'd used an AP photo of the then-senator without credit or payment:

Could the AP Sue George Zimmerman for Plagiarizing His Awful Painting?S

Fairey ended up sued by the AP and paid them $1.6 million to settle. He also ended up with probation and a $25,000 fine for initially destroying evidence in connection with the case.

Could George Zimmerman be up for a similar fate? We've reached out the the Associate Press for comment. Even if he is a money-grubbing plagiarist, that would be the least of the crimes he has committed. But it might be the first one he gets held accountable for.

Update: ANIMAL NY's Andy Cush got confirmation that the AP is hella-pissed:

Paul Colford, the AP's director of media relations, says they sent the artist a cease-and-desist. "George Zimmerman clearly directly copied an AP photo to create his painting of Florida State Attorney Angela Corey," he told ANIMAL. "The AP has sent a cease-and-desist letter asserting its copyright in the photo to the lawyer who recently represented Zimmerman. That lawyer has responded, and though she no longer represents Mr. Zimmerman, she will be forwarding the letter to him today."

[Photo credits: Twitter; AP]