Sunday, July 15, 2012

Can your personal photo be reused for a political ad?

Raymen v. United States Seniors Association, 409 F. Supp. 2d 15 (D.D.C. 2006), found that using a picture of two newly married men in an anti-AARP political ad wasn't libelous, misappropriation, or actionable invasion of privacy.  Now another political attack ad has used the same tactic.
Original picture by Kristina Hill.
Altered picture for attack ad.
It may seem odd that, on the case law, the photographer has a much better claim via copyright (though not an obvious winner, there's plaintiff-favorable precedent for things like music) than the subjects, but that's how it is.  Note how the background has been changed too, to suggest the intrusion of love into a rural setting.  Politically I'm not sure whether that works better, but it does make the copyright claim more difficult.  The Southern Poverty Law Center sent a C&D on behalf of the couple and the photographer.  As my comments indicate, I'm skeptical; many awful instances of political speech aren't and shouldn't be actionable.
(HT Ann Bartow.)

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