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Photographer claims cover photo of Barack Obama’s upcoming memoir is a rip-off of her work

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EXCLUSIVE: Barack Obama’s upcoming memoir is already mired in controversy as former White House photographer demands $50,000 from publisher claiming the cover image is a rip-off of a photo she took of the president

  • Photographer Anna Wilding plans to sue publishers Penguin Random House, claiming the book cover of Barack Obama’s memoir is a rip-off of her work 
  •  The New Zealand-born photographer is seeking at least $50,000 for the picture even though she didn’t actually take the photo 
  • She claims that her black and white style and and angle of the photo is a direct rip-off of a photo she took of the president 
  • ‘My work of Obama is considered iconic and unique. Someone saw my work and said let’s do it like that,’ she told DailyMail.com 
  • Wilding also claimed ‘no one has ever used this particular angle with Obama and shot it in black and white
  • Wilding covered Obama from 2015 to 2017 and was one of a handful of photographers working full-time at the White House
  • Obama’s memoir ‘A Promised Land’ is due to hit shelves November 17

By Martin Gould For Dailymail.com

Published: | Updated:

Barack Obama‘s presidential memoir is wrapped in controversy two months before it even hits bookstores.

Photographer Anna Wilding is planning to sue publishers Penguin Random House, claiming the image they have chosen for the cover of ‘A Promised Land’ is a rip-off of her work.

Now New Zealand-born Wilding wants at least $50,000 for the picture — even though she didn’t take it.

‘Photo copyright is a complex issue and infringement includes derivative works,’ Wilding told DailyMail.com in an exclusive interview from her adopted hometown of Los Angeles.

‘My work of Obama is considered iconic and unique. Someone saw my work and said let’s do it like that. No-one else has ever used this particular angle with Obama and shot it in black and white,’ she said.

‘Why did they not just do a forward-facing photo like they usually do of him?’ she added. ‘It’s an infringement on my rights, my work, my style — my black and white style.’

Photographer Anna Wilding plans to sue publishers Penguin Random House, claiming the book cover of Barack Obama’s memoir is a rip-off of her work

The New Zealand-born photographer is seeking at least $50,000 for the picture – even though she didn’t actually take the photo

Wilding took the photo above and claims the book cover is a rip-off of her work. Wilding covered Obama from 2015 to 2017 and was one of a handful of photographers working full-time at the White House

Wilding went further in a post on her LinkedIn page, calling the book cover ‘stolen, copied, manipulated, reproduced without permission.’

Penguin Random House deny they have done anything wrong with the cover picture. 

‘The portrait of President Obama on the cover of A Promised Land is an original photograph taken by Pari Dukovic,’ executive publicist Carisa Hays told DailyMail.com.

‘We are confident our cover photograph does not infringe any copyrights.’

Wilding worked for two years in the Obama White House as a photographer and correspondent and received critical acclaim for the way she photographed the first black president. 

She published a coffee table book of Obama pictures called Celebrate Hope in 2019. That book was based on an exhibition of her work that ran for months in California.

Now though the exhibition has had to be canceled due to COVID restrictions. ‘I am struggling, like many photographers and filmmakers to pay rent,’ she told DailyMail.com. ‘I need to be paid for my work and any infringements.

‘I have a legitimate and provable claim and it is upsetting when photographers unique and original works are diminished. This is my iconic and published work from my well-known exhibit,’ she added. 

Wilding has been very vocal about her plight on social media. She told DailyMail.com, ‘I am struggling, like many photographers and filmmakers to pay rent. I need to be paid for my work and any infringements’

Wilding said she would have been honored to provide a picture for the cover as she has nothing but respect for the 44th president. But instead, she claimed, the publishers took her style of work and ran with it 

‘The portrait of President Obama on the cover of A Promised Land is an original photograph taken by Pari Dukovic,’ executive told DailyMail.com.  Photographer Pari Dukovic is pictured 

Obama’s memoir is due to be published on November 17. 

The blurb for the book, published by Crown, a subsidiary of Penguin Random House, says it is ‘extraordinarily intimate and introspective. — the story of one man’s bet with history, the faith of a community organizer tested on the world stage.’

Wilding covered Obama from 2015 to 2017. She was one of a handful of photographers working full-time at the White House. 

She says her work is different to the others as they were mainly news photographers, while she considers her work more artistic.

And Wilding said she would have been honored to provide a picture for the cover as she has nothing but respect for the 44th president.

But instead, she claimed, the publishers took her style of work and ran with it — and now they should pay. 

Photographer Pari Dukovic posted to Instagram to say that he is ‘honored’ to have photographed Obama for the cover 

‘I shoot the moments in between,’ she said. ‘We all put up a barrier and I like to strip that away and bring out the humanity of the subject.’

She likened her lawsuit to one brought against Netflix and the producers of the hit show Stranger Things.

Part of that lawsuit claimed the show used ‘copyrighted concept art’ from another screenplay. That case is currently before a federal court in California.

Wilding says she hopes Penguin will see the merit of her case and settle with her before she has to take it to court.

‘Copyright covers derivative work,’ said Wilding. ‘I believe there is clear copyright infringement and I am working with a specialist lawyer on that goal.’

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