Judge rules RNC didn't violate photographer's copyright with unauthorized image use
|This is Erika Peterman's photograph the RNC took from Rob Quist's Facebook page and altered to use on a derogatory mailer. Used with permission.|
In May 2017, photographer Erika Peterman filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against the Republican National Committee (RNC), alleging the organization had used one of her images for a political mailer without permission. The image features Rob Quist, a Democratic congressional candidate who had run against GOP candidate Greg Gianforte in Montana.
Peterman's image, which was licensed to the Quist campaign, was used by the RNC without permission as part of a mailer that mocked the politician. In response to the lawsuit, the RNC claimed its mailer represented fair use of the copyrighted image, and Montana judge Dana L. Christensen has sided with that argument.
|A photo of the mailer that was sent out to Montana residents by the RNC that used Erika Peterman's photograph without permission. Used (here) with permission.|
According to Lexology, the court dismissed Peterman's case, finding that the RNC had 'transformed' the photo adequately enough to claim fair use. Only small visual alterations were made to the image, such as cropping it to fit the mailer, and those edits alone weren't sufficient for it to be considered transformative.
However, the court found that the image's use on a mailer that criticized Quist had transformed the work, stating that the image's inclusion as an element in this critical media qualified as fair use. The court said:
The mailer uses Quist's musicianship to criticize his candidacy, subverting the purpose and function of the Work. With the addition of the treble clefs and text throughout, the mailer attempts to create an association between Quist's musical background and liberal political views… In this context, the image takes on a new meaning.
In addition, the court claimed that the RNC's use hadn't impacted Peterman's ability to profit from the image and that Peterman's had published the image to Twitter and Facebook. By publishing the image on social media, the court stated, 'it must be assumed that the MDP, Quist Campaign, and Peterman herself would have welcomed reposts, [etc.] by other pro-Quist social media users.'
Ultimately, the federal judge found the RNC's unauthorized use of the copyrighted image to be 'moderately transformative and wholly noncommercial [sic],' stating that 'the court determines that the undisputed facts establish that the RNC is entitled to judgement as a matter of law."
DPReview spoke with Peterman via email and she shared the following response regarding the ruling:
DPReview has contact both the RNC and Peterman for comment. This article will be updated accordingly when and if a response is given.
Update (March 19, 2019): This article has been updated with a quote from Erika Peterman
For most of Managing Editor Allison Johnson's photography, smartphones have already replaced a traditional camera. But a recent trip reinforced a couple of key reasons why she's not ready to quite ready to leave the dedicated camera at home – yet.
In the final part of our beginners' guide to camera fundamentals, we look at the trade-offs you contend with when you choose a sensor size. We hope it helps you find the balance that works best for you.
The roof and spire of Notre Dame Cathedral were destroyed in a devastating fire this past Monday. Drone footage shows the extent of the damage done to the historic Parisian landmark.
Fujifilm's latest firmware update for its X-T3 camera includes an improved AF algorithm for enhanced face detection, better subject tracking and more.
Zhong Yi Optics has released its new Mitakon Speedmaster 50mm F0.95 III lens for Sony FE, Canon RF, and Nikon Z mount camera systems.
You can now see the artwork on your wall without the need to order it first.
Nikon's Z6 offers 24MP full-frame image quality in a tough and lightweight body. Photographer Diego Rizzo took a Z6 to Guatemala recently to shoot the Fuego volcano - watch our video to see how he got on.
The Fujifilm X-T30 is a $900 camera that's an incredibly capable stills/video hybrid. Image and 4K video quality are top-notch and, aside from some ergonomic and autofocus stumbles, the X-T30 does just about everything right. Learn more in our in-depth review.
In part two of our beginners' guides to the fundamentals of cameras, we're going to look at the benefits that a larger sensor can bring. Part three will look at the trade-offs that this brings.
The 2019 Pulitzer Prize photography award winners have been announced in the Breaking News and Feature Photography categories.
French analysts System Plus Consulting have torn down the Huawei P30 Pro and made some interesting findings.
The PhotoCross 15 is the third and largest backpack in ThinkTank's MindShift PhotoCross lineup, rounding out the PhotoCross 10 and 13 variations.
A Kickstarter campaign is aiming to raise funds for the production of an external smartphone flash.
This one-off paper camera makes for great photos, but won't be making any great photos.
In the first of a three-part beginners' guide, we're going to look at whether you need to worry about pixel size when choosing a camera. Parts two and three will look at the benefits of a larger sensor size, and the trade-offs you make.
Nikon's new Z 24-70mm F2.8 S promises a substantial size and weight reduction compared to its F-mount predecessor and a boost in optical quality. See how it performs in our sample gallery.
Self-taught programmer Martin Fitzpatrick has created a Raspberry Pi Zero-powered camera that uses a Pocket Etch-A-Sketch to 'print' the 240x144 pixel image.
Parrot has released an enterprise version of its Anafi drone that features an integrated FLIR thermal camera.
A recent patent application from Canon suggests future pop-up flashes on Canon cameras could have continuous lighting thanks to LEDs.
The Loupedeck+ customizable editing controller now supports Adobe's flagship audio editing program and Apple's professional video editing program.
We spoke to Shigemi Sugimoto, the head of Olympus's imaging division at the CP+ show in Yokohama. He talked to us about the appeal of Micro Four Thirds and gave some hints about the types of technology the company is looking at.
Samyang has announced a new trio of lenses that include an 85mm F1.4 lens for Nikon F-mount systems in addition to a 14mm F2.8 and 85mm F1.4 manual focus lenses for Nikon Z-mount camera systems.
Now that we've finished our full review of Canon's latest affordable full-framer, we've taken a look at how well (or not) it works for some common use-cases.
Andrew Saladino of 'The Royal Ocean Film Society' has shared a humorous, albeit completely fictional look at the history of the camera.
The Ricoh GR series is a perennial staff favorite, and in this week's episode, Chris takes the new GR III to an industrial area, does some street photography in the sunny city, and drinks a tasty beer at a new brewery.
We've been eager to test the Ricoh GR III since it arrived, so in addition to a sample gallery and a thorough DPReview TV analysis, it's also been added to our studio test scene comparison tool. Take a look at how it compares to its peers.
World Press Photo has named John Moore's 'Crying Girl on the Border' the 2019 Photo of the Year and revealed the winners in its other categories. We've rounded up the top singles from each.
Blackmagic has announced a console-inspired keyboard specifically for use alongside its video editing program DaVinci Resolve.
Who said Super 8 cameras were the only cameras that should have multiple lenses you can swap between on the fly?
Samsung has revealed the A80, a triple-camera smartphone with a unique rotating camera mechanism.