As you may have heard, earlier this week, Donald Trump Jr. tweeted out a ridiculous image comparing Syrian refugess to poisoned Skittles
. No, really.
FWIW, this is an old and a dumb and meaningless meme. It's not always Skittles, though. Last year failed Presidential contender Mike Huckabee used the same concept, but with Peanuts -- and John Oliver mocked him for it
, noting that "peanuts themselves have killed far more people than terrorist refugees." Another version involved M&Ms, and it was used by a variety of groups -- including a feminist "Yes All Women"
campaign. Some are arguing that the switch from M&Ms to Skittles is even more racist, because it's based on the fact that when Trayvon Martin was shot dead by George Zimmerman, Martin had a pack of Skittles
in his pocket. And, of course, the Intercept argues that this meme goes all the way back to a top Nazi propagandist
making sure that the meme is sufficiently Godwined.
But... of course, most of that has little to do with what we normally cover around these parts. But what we do often cover is copyright related issues -- so it's interesting to find out that the image used in that Skittles graphic that Trump Jr. posted was copied from Flickr
, where it pretty clearly has an "all rights reserved" copyright notice on it. Oh, and the guy who took the photo, David Kittos, happens to be a former refugee himself, who is not at all pleased that his image is being used in this manner
"This was not done with my permission, I don't support his politics and I would never take his money to use it," Mr Kittos told the BBC.
"In 1974, when I was six-years old, I was a refugee from the Turkish occupation of Cyprus so I would never approve the use of this image against refugees."
So, yeah. But what can he do? Well, apparently he's considering taking legal action, though he (rightly) notes that that may be a hassle:
"I would like the Trump campaign to delete the image, but they are probably not interested in what I have to say," he said.
"I was thinking about getting lawyers involved but I don't know if I have the patience.
"This isn't about the money for me. They could have just bought a cheap image from a micro stock library. This is pure greed from them. I don't think they care about my feelings. They should not be stealing an image full stop."
While I might disagree on the use of the term "stealing an image" there, it certainly could create an interesting copyright legal battle -- raising serious questions about fair use in political discussions. Thankfully, though, it seems unlikely that any lawsuit will actually happen. Instead, we can just sit back and think about the number of meetings and conversations that must have happened before Mars Inc., makers of Skittles, decided to put out this statement
Skittles are candy; refugees are people. It's an inappropriate analogy.
Indeed. But is it copyright infringement...?