Photo via Meehle & Jay P.A.
A local photographer is suing the Republican Party of Florida for using her photo without her permission in attack ad mailers against Anna Eskamani, a Democrat running for Central Florida's House District 47 in Orlando.
Photographer Emily Wray alleges that a photo she took of Eskamani at Full Sail on April 15, 2018, was used in a Sept. 25 attack ad mailer sent to an estimated 80,000 recipients.
"It was bad enough to have my work stolen, but to have it used in an attack mailer against a candidate I support is unconscionable," said Wray to Orlando Weekly.
" It’s personal injury on top of professional insult. Though I am shocked by the blatant theft of my image by the Republican Party of Florida, I plan to use it as a teaching moment with the Media Communications students at Full Sail University. For better or worse, social media has made it very easy to share, and steal, digital content. I am willing to stand up for my rights as a creative to show my students that their work has value."
Wray has obtained an attorney, Davey T. Jay, a shareholder at Meehle & Jay P.A
. in Orlando, who sent a letter on Oct. 11, to Blaise Ingoglia, chair of the Republican Party of Florida, arguing that the use of Wray’s image without permission has caused significant damage to her career. Wray also says the attack mailer suggests she endorses Eskamani's opponent, Stockton Reeves.
"Our client is an educator and entrepreneur who assists Central Florida area businesses with their brand storytelling and design needs," Jay said in a statement. "People can recognize the image on the attack mailers as Ms. Wray’s photograph. This has led to the false belief that Ms. Wray approved of the use of the image in a highly partisan and crude attack ad, and that she invited a speaker who stated such things to her students while in her classroom. To be clear, none of the statements on the attack ad were stated during Eskamani’s classroom visit."
Jay says the photo was given to Eskamani's campaign, and then used without permission by the Florida GOP. Though Wray's allegations could support damages of at least $150,000, the Republican Party of Florida has yet to respond to the lawsuit, the law firm says.
We also reached out to the Republican Party of Florida and will update this post if they respond.
"Since no one at the Florida GOP ever sought or obtained a license from Ms. Wray to use the photo for any purpose whatsoever, they violated her rights pursuant to the Copyright Act. We are therefore evaluating Ms. Wray’s options to enforce her rights and investigating whether Ms. Eskamani’s opponent, Stockton Reeves, is liable as well," said Jay.
Laziness has been a theme as of late with the Republican Party of Florida. Last week, the Florida GOP sent out attack ads reusing the same text and images for mailers in different races.
Let's just hope none of that was also protected under copyright law.
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