Thursday, September 27, 2012

Anti-gay mass mailing improperly used image of a same-sex couple

A Loudoun County VA supervisor apparently runs a non-profit “Public Advocate of the United States”, which has been sued by the Southern Poverty Law Center for using an image of a same-sex male couple (from New Jersey) on a mass mailing without permission.

This could be a copyright claim or possibly a misappropriation of likeness under right of publicity torts.  The images were apparently pulled off a public website.  But it is generally not permissible to reproduce privately owned even if published images on other sites without permission (unless there is some sort of Creative Commons license as is often found on Wikipedia). 

The group is said to have a history of mass-mailings critical of a “radical homosexual agenda”.   The site appears to be rather strident and has a link here.

The Metro Section Washington Post story Thursday by Caitlin Gibson is here

Loudoun County borders Fairfax County to the west and runs to the Blue Ridge Mountains, and is one of the highest-income counties in the nation. 

Update: Sept. 29

Today CNN lawyers (Herman and Freeman) said that the copyright on the photos actually belonged to a professional photographer.  Otherwise, the copyright claim might be much weaker.  Herman was skeptical that someone can normally copyright-protect an image placed on a social networking site. 

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