20 October 2016Copyright

Donald Trump in copyright clash with Skittles photographer

US presidential candidate Donald Trump, his son Donald Trump Jr, and vice presidential candidate Mike Pence have been dragged into a copyright brawl with a UK-based photographer.

The photographer, David Kittos, sued the defendants alleging that Trump’s campaign illegally used his photograph of a bowl of Skittles.

The image, called “White Bowl of Candy”, was created in 2010 and is displayed on image-hosting website Flickr. It is registered with the US Copyright Office under number VA0002018955.

Trump Jr had originally tweeted the image with a message that read: “If I had a bowl of Skittles and I told you just three would kill you. Would you take a handful? That’s our Syrian refugee problem.”

Above the message, Trump Jr added: “This image says it all. Let’s end the politically correct agenda that doesn’t put America first.”

The image has now been removed from Twitter.

In a suit filed at the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division on Tuesday, October 18, Kittos claimed that the photograph would have continued to remain on Trump Jr’s account had it not been removed by Twitter at the demand of Kittos’ counsel.

The suit claimed that the unauthorised use of the photograph is “reprehensibly offensive” to Kittos as he is a Cypriot refugee who was forced to flee his home at the age of six years old.

“On information and belief, many thousands of individuals across the US are now reproducing, publicly displaying, transmitting, and otherwise using the photograph as part of promoting Trump and Pence, without plaintiff’s authorisation,” said the suit.

Kittos is seeking injunctive relief, damages, an account of all profits derived from the use of the copyrighted image, and a jury trial.

Heather Blaise, partner at Blaise & Nitschke and representative for Kittos, said: "Kittos decided to take a stand for artists everywhere. This is about protecting artists' ownership rights and not allowing someone to co-opt artists' work to launch polemic attacks, like the defendants did here."

She added that she wants the jury to focus on this reasoning.

"Our client would also like a public apology from the defendants because, as a refugee himself, Kittos never would have authorised his work to be used in connection with the defendants' offensive political message," added Blaise.

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26 June 2017   A New York-based photographer has sued US President Donald Trump over the unauthorised use of a photo during the US presidential election campaign.