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June 3, 2004
Kerry Campaign Violated Copyright, Paper Says

The presidential campaign of John Kerry, who earlier this week got flack from the Swift Boat Veterans for the Truth over the use of members' images in Kerry commercials, ran into a similar issue today when a Texas newspaper accused the campaign of stealing copyrighted photographs and demanded an apology:

Corpus Christi Caller-Times is asking Democrat John Kerry to apologize for what it says was the unauthorized use in a Kerry campaign commercial of photos copyrighted by the newspaper. Editor Libby Averyt said Thursday that the ad, which is not running in Texas, appeared to use photos from "South Texas Heroes," a book on veterans published by the newspaper.

"No request was made to the Caller-Times for any of the photos," Averyt said. ...

The newspaper's attorney, Jorge C. Rangel, on Thursday asked Kerry in a letter to stop using the ads and to apologize to the soldiers' families as well as to the Caller-Times.

"As a decorated war veteran yourself, I hope you will join us in disavowing the use of the images of our brave soldiers as political props in this election. Their patriotism should not be politicized," Rangel wrote.

Supposedly, the Kerry campaign is staffed by professionals who should understand copyright law. How did they get these photographs, and who authorized their use? Rangel may only want an apology, but I think an explanation is on order. The Volokh Conspiracy noted, correctly in my lay estimation, that the SBVT complaint holds no legal merit. They also believe this is fair use, but this is much more of a gray area than the other example. The Caller-Press certainly believes that the Kerry campaign infringed their copyright.

Now when a handful of 9/11 families and firefighters' union officials complained about the use of Ground Zero imagery in a Bush campaign ad -- which used about 2 seconds of that material -- it got national press. However, now that the Kerry campaign has done the same thing, and worse in that they arguably violated the Caller-Times' copyright, do you suppose this will get much attention from the media? Not bloody likely.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 3, 2004 8:03 PM

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