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North Dakota governor candidates used copyrighted newspaper photos in political ads

GRAND FORKS -- The campaigns for the two leading Republican candidates for North Dakota governor have used copyrighted photos taken by Grand Forks Herald photographers in political materials without permission of the newspaper.

GRAND FORKS -- The campaigns for the two leading Republican candidates for North Dakota governor have used copyrighted photos taken by Grand Forks Herald photographers in political materials without permission of the newspaper.

In a large ad running in Thursday's Herald newspaper, an iconic photo of a burned-out building in Grand Forks after the 1997 Red River flood appears alongside photos of Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem. The photo was taken by Herald photographer Eric Hylden.

Stenehjem's campaign manager, Nate Martindale, said the campaign obtained the photo off of UND's library website and received UND's permission to use the photo. A page on the Chester Fritz Library's website displaying the photo notes the image is courtesy of Hylden and the Grand Forks Herald.

"We will swap the photo for the next ad," Martindale said, adding the conversation with the library was about it being in the public domain.

Curt Hanson, head of special collections at the Chester Fritz Library, was unable to confirm whether the library gave permission for the photo but added he would have pointed the campaign to Hylden had he been approached about it.

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Meanwhile, the campaign for Fargo businessman Doug Burgum created a website alleging Stenehjem was the only Republican attorney general to defend the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare--an accusation Stenehjem disputes. The website prominently featured a photo of Stenehjem taken by Herald photographer Jesse Trelstad during an editorial board meeting in April.

Kate Mund, a Burgum spokeswoman, said the campaign's digital vendor put it online "without informing us about the permissions." She said early Thursday afternoon the photo had been removed.

Neither Stenehjem's ad or Burgum's website noted where the photos originally came from.

Stenehjem, a former Grand Forks lawmaker and the state's attorney general for the past 15 years, won the Republican endorsement for North Dakota governor in April. His newspaper ad stated he "stood shoulder to shoulder with us through the flood and fought for funding for our long-term flood protection."

Burgum, a former software executive, is challenging Stenehjem in the primary election on Tuesday.

While both campaigns used copyrighted material, Herald Editor Steve Wagner said it proved to be a good opportunity to educate the public about proper use of the newspaper's content.

"We regularly receive requests to reprint articles and photos, and each is reviewed to determine how it would be used," he said. "In particular, we consider whether it will be used for commercial or political purposes, and rarely grant permission in those instances. Neither campaign asked to use the photos in question, and we would have turned down the requests if they had."

Wagner said Herald photos are frequently used in social media circles without permission, including as Facebook cover photos and promoting events on Twitter. Those uses also are a violation of copyright law.

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All of the newspaper's content, including articles, photos and videos, is subject to copyright law, he said.

"It's important that any person or group ask permission in advance," Wagner said, adding the intended use of the material usually is the determining factor. "We also require the use to credit the newspaper."

Related Topics: DOUG BURGUMWAYNE STENEHJEM
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