The Associated Press has filed lawsuits against several retailers including Urban Outfitters for the unauthorized use of the Hope image of Barack Obama created by artist Shepard Fairey.
Artist Fairey used an AP photo without permission to create the image, and was sued by the news agency for violating copyright. That case was settled.
AP argues that using the image on T-shirts is willful and blatant violation of the copyright of the photo.
A spokesman said that using photos for free devalued the work of journalists.
"When a commercial entity such as these retailers, or the company that sold the shirts to them, gets something for nothing by using an AP photo without credit or compensation, it undermines the AP's ability to cover the news," the BBC quoted AP spokesman Paul Colford as saying in a statement.
"It devalues the work that our journalists do, often in dangerous locations where they may literally risk life and limb to cover a story," the spokesman added.
The news agency sued Outfitters, Nordstrom and Zumiez seeking unspecified damages.
A Nordstrom spokeswoman said in a statement that the firm was aware of the lawsuit. Representatives of the other retailers have yet to respond, according to the news agency.
Street artist Fairey used the photo, taken by Mannie Garcia in 2006, when he created his Hope artwork during Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign. (ANI)