Photographers claim that their 36-year-old image was lifted for Trump campaign merchandise without their consent
Watch out, Donald Trump; now the nature photographers are after you.
Republican presidential candidate Trump’s campaign, officially named Donald J. Trump for President, has been slapped with a lawsuit by a pair of photographers who claim that their image of a bald eagle is being used on Trump campaign merchandise without their permission.
According to the lawsuit, filed in federal court in New York on Wednesday by Wendy Shattil and Robert Rozinski, Rozinski snapped the shot in 1980, capturing “a piercing, intimate, eye-to-eye moment with this majestic creature with near-perfect symmetry against a flawless sky-blue background.”
The photographers, described as “distinguished and highly respected in their field,” say the photo earned a special commendation in the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition in 1986.
But the photo’s most recent use has been less pleasing to the photographers, the complaint says.
According to Shattil and Rozinski, the image has been used without their permission on three yard signs hawked at the Trump Online Store.
The suit claims that the use of the photo was deliberate, as “Plaintiffs’ particular specimen complements the direct and unflinching persona that Mr. Trump seeks to project to the American public.”
Compounding matters, the suit says, the Trump campaign “published content incorporating the Photograph via internet social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest” with the intention that users would share the content “for subsequent use by others,” leading to “rampant viral infringement.”
Trump’s attorney has not yet responded to TheWrap’s request for comment.
Alleging direct copyright infringement and secondary copyright infringement, the suit seeks damages, plus profits attributable to the alleged infringing uses of the image. In the alternative, the photographers are suggesting statutory damages “in an amount up to $30,000 per work infringed, or up to $150,000 per work intentionally infringed.”
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.