Donald Trump Campaign Attacked by Nature Photographers in Copyright Lawsuit

The presidential candidate's use of an "iconic" eagle portrait leads to a complaint over "viral infringement."
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What's the deal with Donald Trump and bald eagles?

On Wednesday, his presidential campaign was hit with a copyright lawsuit over a portrait of an eagle alleged to be owned by Wendy Shattil and Robert Rozinski, identifying themselves as award-winning professional photographers specializing in nature and wildlife photography. The complaint filed in New York claims that Donald J. Trump for President has misappropriated an iconic photograph for campaign signs and has incited an "epidemic of third-party infringement."

This isn't the first time Trump has experienced an eagle attack.

In December, Time Magazine released behind-the-scenes footage of an unusual photo shoot in which Trump tried to pose with a bald eagle in his Trump Tower office before the bird lunged at him. "What you will do for a cover," said Trump at the time. "This bird is seriously dangerous but beautiful."

via GIPHY

The above video went viral, and now Trump is facing a lawsuit that talks about how "especially in the Internet era, viral promotion of candidates is invaluable."

The plaintiffs say they became aware of the infringement when watching news coverage of the New Hampshire Republican presidential primary and spotted an attendee at one of his rallies holding a printed sign incorporating their photograph. They researched further and said they discovered that the Trump campaign hosted an online store where the eagle image was incorporated for various merchandise.

The lawsuit has some examples, including this one.

According to the complaint, the Trump campaign is not just selling merchandise, but also encouraging others to print signs featuring the eagle to express their support.

"The Defendants published content incorporating the Photograph via Internet social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, intending that the individuals accessing such content via those services would 'share' via Facebook, 'retweet' via Twitter, and 'pin' via Pinterest that content for subsequent use by others," states the complaint. "The effect of this iterated unauthorized reproduction and redistribution is the rampant viral infringement of Plaintiffs' exclusive rights in their Photograph."

The lawsuit says that Trump for President, demanding damages for both direct and secondary copyright infringement, refused efforts to resolve this matter privately. The plaintiffs are represented by Joshua Bressler. 

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