Marlene Quinn, 78, of Cincinnati allowed We Are Ohio, the pro-union group fighting to overturn the recent anti-collective bargaining law, to use her image and words in an ad. Her young granddaughter was saved from a house fire in November by the firefighters and she has nothing by praise for them, wants them to have their collective bargaining rights restored and believes our public servants deserve everything they get.
Now, she’s complained to WCPA-TV that the anti-union group Building a Better Ohio has “stolen” the We Are Ohio footage of her and deceptively re-cut it make it seem she supports the law. Quinn doesn’t like the fact that appearing in both ads makes her looked like an addled old woman who doesn’t know what she’s talking about.
Now, as I understand the law, once a film is made, the image on it doesn’t belong to the actor or person being interviewed, but to the film-maker, the production company or the director. That includes advertisements. Endorsements are a bit trickier. A song for example can be approved for broadcast or use by whoever holds the rights, but the implication that the performer endorses the candidate or political position has gotten a lot of Republicans verbally thrashed.
Building a Better Ohio calls its ad appropriate and lawful. At least half of that allegation is wrong. The image of Mrs. Quinn being interviewed or giving her endorsement to the firefighters belongs to the people who originally filmed her. There are different levels of use permission for photos and videotapes available for embedding or download. Only those that specify “public domain” can be used freely. Everything else either requires attribution, permission or payment. Unless Building a Better Ohio can show the paperwork for purchasing that film from We Are Ohio or the company that created their ad, BBO is guilty of plagarism and theft.
For a party that constantly hammers on the idea that they and they alone defend the Constitution and the laws of the land, the Republicans and right wingers have a long and disgraceful history of ignoring the copyright and intellectual property laws. Laws only matter to the right wing when they benefit the right wing.