Photographer Sues Kemp Campaign for Unapproved Use of Abrams Photo

Jan 15, 2019

Kevin Liles, a photographer in Atlanta, is suing Brian Kemp’s campaign and the Georgia Republican Party for their use of images Liles took of Stacey Abrams. 

Atlanta based photographer Kevin Liles is suing the Georgia Republican Party and the Kemp for Governor campaign for copyright infringement.
Credit U.S. District Court

The suit, filed in the United States District Court in Atlanta on Jan. 8, claims that a photo of Kemp’s Democratic opponent, which was published in the New York Times and is posted on his personal website, was used in an advertisement without his permission.

The 30-second attack ad, which aired in September 2018, titled “Abrams Too Extreme for Georgia” features several images of Abrams and cites her record as the House Minority Leader, as well as other publications.

Liles works as a photographer for the Atlanta Braves and regularly contributes to The New York Times, Washington Post, ESPN and other publications. According to court filings, Liles, represented by Attorneys Rothman and Liebowitz, is seeking payment for damages, profits made as a result of the advertisement and attorney fees.

Despite the political nature of the case due to those involved, David Shipley, University of Georgia Law School Professor and copyright expert, says that this type of case is legitimate and he was able to provide several examples of similar situations both political and otherwise.

“If they did copy [the photograph], even if it was only shown for a few seconds, they did reproduce it and there is a case,” says Shipley. Federal copyright law prohibits the reproduction of work without written consent from the creator. However, Shipley did warn that the Kemp campaign and Georgia Republican Party could argue fair use as a defense for the images use.

In US law, there are certain circumstances when copywritten material may be used without permission from the creator.  

Lawyers for the photographer were not available for comment, but the executive director of the Georgia Republican Party, Carmen Foskey says, “we are reviewing the issues raised and expect quick resolution to this matter.”