Alan Fine used an MPR photo on his campaign literature

MPR attorneys have sent Alan Fine’s campaign a cease and desist letter after he used an MPR photo on its campaign literature. How do I know? I took the picture.


Fine, the GOP candidate running in Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District, released the campaign mailing on October 5th. It criticizes Democrat Keith Ellison’s relationship with the Council of American Islamic Relations.


The photo in question is on the back of the mailer. The reason I noticed it was because of the red brick background.

The photo was taken after Ellison won the DFL endorsement. Ellison talked with a few reporters after his speech to the delegates. No one from the Fine campaign or the Republican Party was there during the interview.


As you can see from the mailer, Fine’s campaign flipped the photo and cropped it. Look real closely at the lower left edge of the photo on the mailer and you can see Star Tribune reporter Rochelle Olson’s pink sleeve. MPR attorneys issued a letter to the Fine campaign this afternoon. (MPR removed the cease and desist letter).

Fine’s campaign told the news media that the mailer was sent to 100,000 5th Congressional District voters. Fine’s Campaign has not returned calls on the matter. Independence Party member Tammy Lee and Green Party candidate Jay Pond are also running in the 5th.

  • Where I come from, flopping a photo is also a form of dishonesty, but then, I’m old fashioned.

  • wbailey

    The campaign procedure corresponds to the Republican Party glossy mailer that attacks Amy Klobuchar for her support of legislation that would give immigrants rights to Social Security benefits and Medicare. In that case, I hope this dirty politics backfires. This gets out Klobuchar’s message. I hope others agree that our benefits should not be bolstered by the dollars earned and deducted by the wages of the poor.

  • wbailey

    This campaign mailing corresponds to the Republican Party glossy mailer I just received that attacks Amy Klobuchar for her support of legislation that would give immigrants rights to Social Security benefits and Medicare. In that case, I hope the dirty politics backfires. It gets out Klobuchar’s message. I hope others agree that our benefits should not be bolstered by the dollars earned and deducted from the wages of the poor.

    I wonder if Klobuchar’s photo is public domain.

  • Pretty minor beef, it seems to me.

    MPR is perfectly within its rights to defend its property, and has an obligation to do so. But given all the dirty tricks there are in politics these days, and awful photos used to make a candidate look bad, you should be pleased that Keith looks pretty darn good in this photo!

    Next time MPR uses a photo of me, I want you taking it!

    This falls into the misdemeanor category, not felony.

  • bsimon

    I think copyright infringement is a felony not a misdemeanor.

  • Karl

    I continue to be amazed at the crap that both parties put out for campaign literature and tv ads. Absolute crap, considering the millions they spend. You can spot the same photos in brochures used across the country–Minnesota ads featuring freeway shots from California, generic school children images that could be from Anywhere, USA. One of the most egregious example was when Norm Coleman used an out-of-state firm to produce a mailing that showed the city of St. Paul skyline with all its billboards–and the 1st National Bank’s big red “1”–airbrushed away to kake Norm’s city look prettier.

    There are a dozen bloggers on both sides of the aisle who could blow away the garbage produced by the consultants the GOP and DFL use–both in visuals and copy–at a fraction of the cost.

    And don’t get me going on how both sides continue to exaggerate the faults of their opponents, misrepresent their voting records, etc., when their opponent and their record is so easily criticized with the truth. Or casting stones at their opponent for offenses they, themselves, have committed (like the DFL using money from United Health’s Lois “Mrs. Entenza” Quam to jump Pawlenty for money he received from United Health’s Bill McGuire). Did they think no one would remember the Entenza/Quam connection?

    What are these people thinking when they put these ads together? Don’t they ever screen them in front of cynics so they can poke holes in them before their opponents and the media does?

  • rew

    100,000 copies? Tom, you should ask for a penny a copy, and then take the entire mpr staff out for beers.

  • AAA

    Hey, If you get Fine to stop, can you let me know how to do it?

    People, and by people I mean the DFL, have swiped a few of my pictures and used them for their stuff.

  • bsimon

    Triple A- send them a letter. If you want them to pay attention, have a lawyer send them a letter.

  • Note to self: don’t swipe any more photos from MPR.

    This is tricky. I notice you didn’t complain when I cropped some of your photos for Blog for Bell, but then again I always used cropped versions of MPR and TPT’s photos as links to the stories or webpages they were from, and I think that’s a different thing although the law may not have definitively ruled on this yet.

    Andy, the DFL swiped your photos? Or a DFL blog? Did they use them without crediting you in any way, or were there links to you? Believe me when I say that if the answer is the DFL, I’d really like to see you initiate legal action.

    Now that I’m paying attention, I’ve got to say that I really can’t see much difference between how the DFL operates and how the RNC works, but I’d be surprised if the RNC ever swiped a picture from a blog and used it unattributed.

  • I think for a serious copyright infringement case to be made, you have to be able to show some sort of damage.

    There clearly will be no economic damage, and complaining that it drags MPR into a partisan contest is rather a stretch, since nobody knew about it until MPR pointed it out and blasted it out to everybody.

    If the damage is that it hurts Ellison, that would be again a stretch, and not damage to MPR.

    Sending a cease and desist makes sense, although of course they probably already shot their wad with the photo.

    I’m not trying to defend the action, but put it into context. This isn’t a dirty trick, but a faux pas basically. Why annoy the media who are covering your race.

    Before I read someone getting too bent out of shape about this (“felony”), let me check to see if you ever visited napster and downloaded music for free. That actually could cost someone real money.

  • I’m a bit behind on reading blogs so I am now just getting to this entry.

    In our race in the 8th District Rod Grams has shamelessly stolen photos from our website and used them in his mail. The practice was noted in John Meyers Article in the Duluth News Tribune Oct. 22nd.

    In all of the cases Grams campaign has photoshoped the pictues to make Jim look eiter silly or sinister. In the latest example they created a fake mugshot.

    It’s not a wise use of campaign dollars to hire a lawyer to go after them for this, so we will have to keep hammering away at our issues and pummeling Rod on his terrible record.

    Its funny, in the Almanac Debate on October 13th Jim told Rod that he knew the Iron Range “I’ve washed more iron ore from behind my ears and between my toes than you will see in a lifetime,” said Oberstar.

    “I’ve washed a lot of manure from behind my ears and between my toes,” Grams later responded.

    Yep, no arguement there.

    John Schadl

    Communications Director

    Oberstar for Congress