Last week, ThinkProgress broke the news that both senatorial candidates Sharron Angle (R-NV) and Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) used the same racially-tinged image in separate attack ads against their opponents and described the subjects in the photo as “illegal aliens.” Besides invoking offensive anti-Latino stereotypes, the photographer of the photo, Chris Floyd, later informed the Washington Post that the “illegal aliens” in the picture were actually Mexicans still in Mexico.
In a phone interview with ThinkProgress, Floyd indicated that he’s still waiting to hear himself what, if any, legal actions Getty Images is pursuing. Floyd explained that he has a contract with Getty which means that they have the “first right to pursue legal action in the event of a copyright violation.”
However, Floyd did seem confident that the Angle and Vitter campaigns are at the very least morally, if not legally, culpable:
I think this is a question of principle. The only legal place they could’ve obtained that image [on the Getty Images website] clearly printed out that the people in the photo were not illegal aliens, but Mexicans in Mexico. That means they either purposefully deceived their audience or they stole the photo from somewhere else.
Whether it was done intentionally or not, Floyd maintains that “they [the Vitter and Angle campaigns] completely distorted the reality of my photo.”
Floyd also expressed concern over how the improper use of the photo could reflect on him. “Someone might see my photo and say ‘that guy [Floyd] is clearly not an impartial and informed photojournalist, he’s just trying to further his own extremist agenda.’” However, that is certainly not the case. “I just want to be able to do my work in a way that’s fair and balanced,” said Floyd.
Getty Images did not immediately respond to ThinkProgress’ request for comment. However, the company’s editorial policy, as printed on their website, reads, “We believe that photographs are the visual communication of a story and should be held to an equal level of accountability, responsibility and integrity as the written word in journalism. Images illustrate and reflect the events of our world today and therefore have a responsibility to be delivered to the customer with accuracy and impartiality.”