Tuesday, April 29, 2008

You've Got To Be Kidding?

This has to rate as the absolute dumbest political move of this year's Indiana campaign cycle. Remember those images of public schools which Jill Long Thompson's campaign used in a campaign TV ad that criticized Jim Schellinger for making "millions lobbying to raise property taxes to pay for schools he designed?" When Schellinger complained that the images of the schools shown in the original TV ad were actually projects performed by another architectural firm which supported Thompson's candidacy, the Thompson campaign corrected the mistake and began using images of schools which CSO Architects had designed. Now, CSO's attorneys have served a cease and desist letter to Thompson's campaign to stop using images of its projects. The letters reads, in part:

Please be advised that Barrett & McNagny LLP represents Schenkel & Shultz, Inc.(hereinafter referred to as “Schenkel & Shultz”). It has recently come to our client's attention that the Jill Long Thompson campaign is using images of Schenkel & Shultz projects in its TV ads without authorization from Schenkel & Shultz. The projects included in the TV ads are the Wayne Township Schools, Ben Davis High School and a Decatur Township School projects. The Jill Long Thompson campaign does not have authorization to use these images. Schenkel & Shultz is the architect of record for these projects and is owner of the images which the Jill Long Thompson campaign has used in its TV ads.

I'm a lawyer, but someone is going to have to help me out here. If I take a picture of Ben Davis High School, then I have to get permission from CSO to use that image in campaign material for illustrative purposes because it happened to be the architectural firm which designed this publicly-owned school? I think not. Maybe I should ask the school for permission to use an image of the school (although I doubt I'm legally required to do so), but I'll be damned if CSO owns the image of any public school it happened to design at taxpayers' expense. Even if CSO's position is legally correct for the sake of argument, it is an outrageous position for Schellinger to have to defend publicly. Good luck explaining this one, Jim. A big hat tip to Taking Down Words.


Bart Lies said...

Looks like the next 6 days are going to be chock full of blog-fodder.

This is becoming the craziest campaign cycle ever.

Unknown said...

I have to agree AI, I think that is the dumbest thing I have ever heard. It's shear stupidity from a political standpoint. And it's almost as equally stupid from a legal standpoint. The architects who design the building do not own its image. That's ridiculous. I hope that attorney was paid a lot because it's a pretty ridiculous claim. If I was Jill Long, I think I'd beg them to sue me. I might even be inclined to pay the filing fee to help it along. Morons.

Sean Shepard said...

I doubt anyone is paying royalties for every picture, calendar, tv ad, movie [etc] to every architect who designed a building in, oh let's say the New York skyline for a good example).

Assuming they took their own photos, I see no problem.

varangianguard said...

Sean has it, I think. Someone just lifted an image (or three) from the web for JLT's ad.

When it is for non-personal use, it's absolutely copyright infringement.

Sardonicus said...

I would think, even with my limited copyright experience, that this is infringement. The plaintiffs, while looking foolish, would probably win, and the ads would be taken off the air. There might be additional penalties as well.

Sean Shepard said...

Yeah, if they lifted pictures from elsewhere and did not get (or buy) permission from the owner of the photographs or copyright holder for where those photographs are used, then absolutely I think that would be infringement.

Donvila said...

I hope you don't mind, but I "lifted" your post to use on http://progressivessouthbend.org I credited the post, furnished a general link to your blog and suggested folks check you out.

If yolu do object, email me at donvila@aol.com and I'll remove it.

In either case, thanks.

Don Wheeler

jabberdoodle said...

So, I have to think that S&S also threatened to sue Google maps for the use of images of these schools in their 'street view' maps.

But, if S&S is only threatening a lawsuit because they got rich at the same taxpayer trough that Schellinger would keep running with plenty of slop... would they have to indicate the expense as a donation or a donation in kind for Schellinger's campaign?