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A Misuse of Copyrighted Material in the Sheriff’s Campaign

| August 20, 2016

flaglerlive sheriff's campaign copyright

Yes, it’s copyrighted. (© FlaglerLive)

Yesterday a mailing featuring a lamb on one side and the picture of John Lamb on the other caught my attention. Lamb is one of the nine candidates running for sheriff, one of six on the Republican side. His picture looked familiar. It had to: I’d taken it, and it ran atop Lamb’s Live Interview, with FlaglerLive’s clearly marked copyright symbol. Yet there it was, converted to a sinister black and white to match the sinister message of the mailer, which makes Lamb sound like a villain in a Quentin Tarantino imitation movie.


The mailer was from the Rick Staly campaign. Staly is the former undersheriff now running for sheriff among the six Republicans. “We deserve an ethical sheriff” is his mailer’s tagline. There’s nothing ethical about stealing a copyrighted picture and including it in an attack ad: no one at FlaglerLive had given Staly or his campaign authorization to use the picture, nor would we have in such a context. FlaglerLive grants all local governments and schools permission freely to use all our images (with credit) to illustrate government documents or presentations. But campaigns are not government. (One candidate asked and got permission to use the picture of a former principal, but in a neutral context.)

I’ve always had a good relationship with Staly since getting to know him in 2011, shortly before he became undersheriff. He’s been honest, immediately accessible and not once given to the sort of prevarications that can turn interviews with officials into wrestling matches. The misuse of the image was upsetting and disappointing. I wrote him and told him so, asked for an explanation and a statement clearly explaining that his campaign had used the picture without authorization.

Staly immediately called, said he was unaware of the misuse but would get to the bottom of it quickly, and shortly after that did so: “Our campaign failed to obtain permission and did not credit Flagler Live with this specific photo.  Our campaign incorrectly assumed that the photo was in the public domain and available to be used,” he wrote. “This is my campaign so the buck stops with me.  It is my mistake and I accept 100% responsibility.” He added: “I very much apologize for this mistake.  I am asking everyone involved with my campaign to review all photos being employed.  In life when we make a mistake, the best thing we can do when it is brought to our attention is to be honest, immediately accept responsibility, and do our best going forward.”

I appreciated the swift response and explanation. Mistakes do happen, especially in an age when we’re immersed in media content from innumerable and at times intractable sources. Of the 12,000-odd pictures that have run on FlaglerLive, there’d been a case or two in the early years (that I subsequently learned of) where I inadvertently violated copyright, instances immediately corrected when flagged. Much more routinely, we find our images and at times articles used and misused on other sites. Most of the time we don’t make an issue out of it. But it is very much an issue when a political campaign misuses our content in any way, particularly in the context of an attack ad in the most inflamed local race of the year.

–Pierre Tristam

Pierre Tristam is FlaglerLive’s editor. Reach him by email here or follow him @PierreTristam

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19 Responses for “A Misuse of Copyrighted Material in the Sheriff’s Campaign”

  1. Scott Spradley says:

    Misuse of copyrighted images has increased exponentially in the digital age. This article is a nice reminder that you generally cannot lawfully copy an image from one source and then publish it to another, particularly when no credit is given.

  2. Dazed and Confused. says:

    Cheap shot by the Staly camp. I threw it in the trash. John Lamb for Sheriff.

  3. Geezer says:

    Admitting to mistakes takes character. Too bad that some people find it so difficult to apologize,
    with a dose of mea culpa, and instead dig their heels into the dirt of plausible deniability.

    That’s oh, so un–Manfre-like of Mr. Staly–and that’s a plus! You can tell he isn’t a lawyer!
    Bravo!

  4. liberal says:

    Sad that Pierre caved in so easily to an advertiser. But, as we know, its not about democrat or republican, or the truth….its all about the $. I know you wont post this, but it does give you something to think about. Its just business.

    • Pierre Tristam says:

      Caved in, really? I’d love to hear how. I’m not often scooped but I’m always game for news. Or a laugh.

  5. Unethical Staly says:

    Earlier this year Staly used his connections and he accessed the personal information of all the residents of Palm Coast Plantation and sent them all an email asking for donations for his campaign. I know because I received that email. Staly was confronted by a resident and he stated that he had a right to personal emails and names because he lives there. That was NOT TRUE and Staly was quickly directed by the association to STOP using his access to send requests for donations. Staly has a long history of unethical behavior and I hope he tries to deny this because I still have the emails and notice from the association.

  6. Rick G says:

    Well done Pierre. I appreciate your integrity and humanity involved in the situation.

  7. Because i can says:

    Lamb for Sheriff. Staly would just be another good ole boy.

  8. Jeanne Coyne says:

    I received those mailings and trashed them as well. I also went to social media telling all my friends this is an example of what we “don’t” want for Sheriff. It’s ugly politics. My vote will be going to John Lamb for Sheriff. I like is ethics and values. Interesting to find out Staley is also guilty of stealing. He knew what was happening. Doesn’t matter. Vote for integrity. Vote John Lamb.

  9. Ken says:

    Rick Staly’s apology for the improper and illegal use of copy written material was the right thing to do. However, he really didn’t have much choice. He alluded to taking the “hit” for other’s actions and sounded contrite. BUT…..make no mistake about it! Rick Staly is steering his campaign’s ship and NOTHING is printed or spoken by him or his campaign people without his express approval.

    His “apology” did not include the mud-slinging content of the mailer. Given his history of unethical behavior and back room dirty politics (Orange County Sheriff’s Office & Flagler County Sheriff’s Office), is this really the person that our residents want as their Sheriff? Since the John Lamb mailer he has since sent out another mud-slinger attacking former Sheriff Don Fleming’s character. What a disgusting example of gutter snipe politics.

  10. Concerned Citizen says:

    Just wondering how an intelligent individual like Staly can not know the goings on in his campaign?

    I like the typical politician excuse. I wasn’t aware of it but will look into it and get to the bottom of it. Instead of outright saying yes we used it and now we got caught. Sorry for that.

    Doesn’t sound very ethical of a person who blows the whistle on someone every time they commit an ethics violation..

  11. footballen says:

    Just point out the few candidates that are not slinging mud and choose based on experience, staff credibility and worthiness of office. It is usually the candidate that everyone throws mud at the most. The exception to that rule here is the one who obviously has dug his own grave. But typically speaking just pick the guy everyone else is trying to destroy for no REAL reason.

  12. OhISee says:

    I received the mailing. I also received another one on Fleming from the same camp. Seems the truth escapes both this former undersheriff and the current sheriff. Since taking office both were set on getting rid of certain employees and one was set on getting the other’s job. We don’t need manipulators of truth in the top law enforcement position in the county. We especially don’t need one who is attempting to “buy” his way in while running a smear campaign. Since he’s quoting Sheriff Manfre’s statements to the News Jornal in his latest mailing on Fleming, perhaps we should refer to another Manfre statement where he publicly stated more than once that hiring this person as his undersheriff was the biggest mistake he made and who was actually the mind behind the firings of long time career deputies. Cleanse the political pool is what I believe Manfre said he was told by his former undersheriff. Some candidates will tell you all about who they want you to “think” they are. Some will lie about impeccable records but eventually the truth finds its way and unfortunately sometimes, it’s after we’ve entrusted the person to the position as we see now with the current Sheriff. I do support Don Fleming for Flagler County Sheriff as I know the job he did as our Sheriff but I also support the right for us all to support and vote for the candidate of our choosing. If smear campaigns are your thing, or if you feel that calling the cops over hurt feelings because of a sign attached to a bicycle, is a good reason to tie up your deputies on patrol, then you know who to vote for.

  13. Ken says:

    It’s also an example of a “win at all costs” mentality. Sad!

  14. Flagler Bch. says:

    If your going to vote for Staley , you might as well just vote for Manfre ! We need real change in Our County , good and positive change! Vote for John Lamb !

  15. A Little Common Sense Please says:

    Is anyone really surprised? Staly also has deceived the voter’s by failing to place the word “FOR” predominantly on his campaign signs, as is required by law when one is not the incumbent. Maybe in Staly’s mind he was the Sheriff and Manfre was the under sheriff since he threw Manfre under the bus. I am convinced Staly used his position as under sheriff in Flagler County to climb to the top. He won’t get my vote!! We need a Sheriff who is ethical and conducts himself honorably at all times, whether is has a badge on or not. Lamb has my vote, and I hope you will vote for Lamb too.

  16. John F. Pollinger says:

    If I may, I would like to step away for a moment from my role in the current sheriff’s campaign and the candidate I am supporting.

    Since this all began, I’ve had conversations with all of the candidates and campaign workers….too many to count actually. In each instance, I knew how hard all of us were working on our own respective campaigns and knew it well since I was once a candidate myself.

    We always shared a handshake and some friendly conversation. I also enjoyed our good natured ribbing that’s typical among current or former law enforcement officers who enjoy “busting” each other, yet never in a mean spirited way.

    In the last few days I was disappointed and disheartened to (put it mildly) that another candidate could shake my hand, smile to my face, share a few laughs and the entire time behind that handshake and smile…..what he was planning to do at the last minute.

    Of course he could do it. The standard line is “that’s politics” as if to give it some blessing. But knowing what was coming and thinking it while shaking my hand and smiling left me with a very bitter taste not only for him, but for politics in general.

    As the song goes….”they smile to your face all the time they want to take your place…” you know the rest of the line.

  17. Gkimp says:

    John Lamb has pulled a lot of the same tricks using people in his campaign under monikers making negative comments about each of the other candidates. Staly and Lamb are in the same category, Lamb is just better at covering his tracks.

  18. OhISee says:

    Staly ran for sheriff as a Democrat in Orange County, endorsed Democrat Jerry Demings for Sheriff in Orange County, and comes here and helps Democrat Manfre, works for him for over two years and suddenly undergoes some sort of an epiphany and is now a Republican? I don’t think so and neither should any other Republican voter. Say No to Staly.

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