British photographer Chris Floyd reports that two Republican candidates for US Senate have used one of his images (right) in their political ads without permission, and branded the subjects of the image–three Mexicans photographed in Mexico–as illegal immigrants.
“The image was taken and used entirely out of context,” he says. “As well as the copyright issue there is the moral issue of distorting the facts behind the image.”
Sharron Angle and David Vitter, who are running for Senate in Nevada and Louisiana, respectively, used Floyd’s 2006 image in anti-immigration TV ads as part of their campaigns. Angle’s ad states outright that the men are “illegal aliens,” while Vitter’s ad implies that, Floyd says.
He photographed the men in Altar, Mexico while shooting a story about the Minutemen for British GQ. (The Minutemen are a US-based citizens’ volunteer group that patrols the Mexican border in an effort to stop illegal immigration.) Altar, Mexico is a border town where many would-be immigrants stock up on supplies before attempting to enter the US illegally. The subjects of Floyd’s photo were farmers from southern Mexico.
Floyd says it is unclear how Angle and Vitter acquired his image. It is available for editorial use only through his licensing agency, Getty Images, he says. Under pressure from Getty on the issue of copyright infringement, Angle’s ad has been removed from YouTube.
But Floyd says he is pushing for an acknowledgement of wrongdoing and an apology from the two campaigns. “It’s a principled stand, rather than an issue of cash,” he says. Floyd has posted more detailed information on his blog.
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