Wedding photographer Kristina Hill says she’s contemplating legal action for copyright infringement against a Virginia-based group that has ripped off one of her images of a same-sex couple, and used it to create a political attack ad.
The group, called Public Advocate of the United States, used an engagement photo of Hill’s showing her clients kissing. The group used the image in a political ad attacking Colorado State Senator Jean White, who has voted in favor of allowing civil unions in Colorado.
Public Advocate, which is designated a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center. cropped Hill’s image, stripped away the background of the New York skyline, and replaced it with a background of a Colorado landscape in winter. The group also superimposed text that read: “State Senator Jean White’s idea of ‘family values?'”
The ad was created for a conservative anti-gay opponent vying for White’s senate seat. White was defeated in that race.
One of the men in Hill’s photograph, Brian Edwards, was notified by a friend about the ad. Edwards minced no words about it on his blog called The Gay Wedding Experience: “How do I feel? I’m in shock and I’m angry and I’m hurt and I’m flabbergasted and I’m livid.”
According to The Denver Post, Edwards and his partner have hired a lawyer.
Hill also wrote about the theft on her blog. “To see an image, taken with that intent being used in the way it was used is heart-breaking for me,” she said. (Hill was a PDN Top Knots contest winner in 2010.)
In The Denver Post story about the ad, Public Advocate defended its unauthorized use of the image on the grounds that others “make fair use of our materials.” (Public Advocate’s web site says it is “fighting Liberals Tyrants Elitists Homosexuals Barack Obama pornography gay marriage same-sex marriage high taxes over-regulation.”)
In an interview with PDN, Hill said of Public Advocate’s use of her image, “It’s obviously copyright infringement, and I plan to pursue it.”
She’s just not certain she has the resources–or the stomach–for a protracted court fight. “There’s not going to be monetary gain in my lawsuit. I don’t care. I would be looking for justice. But it could drag on for years, and rack up a lot legal fees for me, and I don’t have a ton of money.”
She adds, “They’re a powerful organization that did this. I’m one tiny photographer. It’s scary. It could be a lot of tearing me apart. It could get ugly.”
The sister of deceased American journalist Marie Colvin has filed a civil lawsuit in U.S. district court in Washington D.C. against the state of Syria, alleging that Colvin was deliberately targeted for extrajudicial killing by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The 2012 artillery attack on a media center in Homs killed Colvin, 56,... More ›
When we published our story “What Lawyers See When They Look at Editorial Photography Contracts” in the June issue of PDN, we asked readers to tell us about editorial contracts they feel are unfair to photographers. We received a copy of a “Vice Media Photographer Agreement” that a Vice website sent to a photographer earlier... More ›
Yesterday the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a new set of rules for the use of drones in the United States for “non-hobby and non-recreational purposes,” i.e. commercial production and journalism. The rules introduce a certification process for drone pilots, address drone operation when people are present, and spell out when drone operators must clear... More ›