One of the great joys in my life is my camera. Anyone who has been reading me these past few years knows the effort I have put into creating images - I live for this, and I have invested money in the pursuit of this craft, anywhere from better camera equipment, to travel all over the state to attend events. It has been a passion for me.
But, thanks to Republican right-wing swiftboaters, and now Tim Walberg and the Michigan Republican Party, that joy and enthusiasm for capturing these moments in history has been stolen from me. Yes, we have another occurrence of copyright violation and blatant theft of one of my pictures - this time they stole a picture of Mark Schauer, taken at the Battle Creek Cereal Festival, and are using it in this attack ad for Tim Walberg that was paid for by the Michigan Republican Party.
Here is the shot from YouTube - kind of hard to see as the picture floats through water down the screen. You can see it clearly when you watch the video.
And here is the original shot they took it from, one of my favorite shots of Senator Schauer.
Blatant theft. When you see this ad on your TV, remember this post. It's funny how Republicans want to promote the spirit of entrepreneurship, they are all for the little guy starting small business, and claim that they want to help such people and are on their side, but yet they have no problem stealing work from a free-lance photographer. Does Tim Walberg approve of this? Do the Michigan Republicans? It really is a question that you have to ask yourself - after all, next time the work they steal could be yours.
Democrats have purchased my work with fair compensation, always asking permission and offering to pay market value for my time and efforts. Republicans apparently think it’s OK to rip-off the little people and thwart free enterprise. But, given the past eight years, is anyone surprised by that?
One last thing that speaks to integrity of my work. I have never published or sold bad or “funny” pictures of anyone to use in attack ads. I’ve got them too – Romney, Hildenbrand, Ehlers, Bouchard, all Republicans that I could have tried to sell and embarrass, and I didn’t. Why? Because I consider it tacky and low-class. Anyone can take a bad picture. I want my work to speak to the better nature of people, not to those who would use artistic creation to hurt others.
This is my art, my life, and they are stealing it from me. Now I need to decide whether or not to pull down all my pictures of politicians from Flickr, pictures that I hoped that the people of Michigan could enjoy. I never dreamed that they would be used by selfish Republicans for their own political gain. My apologies go out to Senator Obama, Governor Granholm, and now Senator Schauer. I never authorized these pictures for use, and I’m deeply hurt that something I did for the good of the state and its people is now being used in such a way.
UPDATE: Chris Gautz of the Jackson Citizen Patriot reports that the GOP stole two more pictures from me to use in a mail flier that is critical of Schauer. Read the story here. See my comment here about what Brad Flory had to say, since as of this writing, the Cit-Pat hasn't posted my response.