Group Sued for Using Engagement Photo in Anti-Gay Mailer

New Jersey couple Brian Edwards and Thomas Privitere followed their 2010 Connecticut marriage with the photo shoot of their dreams in New York’s lovely Brooklyn Bridge Park. (Full disclosure: Your editor’s wedding shoot was also held in the park, so we salute them for their good taste.)

All good, right? But the newlyweds didn’t expect their heartfelt image to be co-opted by an anti-gay political advocacy group called Public Advocate of the United States for use in mailers denouncing two Colorado state senate candidates for their support of same-sex civil union rights. (We do love the Google search subtext for the group’s website, which reads “Eugene Delgaudio is fighting Liberals Tyrants Elitists Homosexuals Barack Obama pornography gay marriage same-sex marriage high taxes over-regulation.” A true classic that touches all the bases! SEO win!)

The group used an image of the couple kissing on the mailer, replacing the Brooklyn Bridge background with a strange pine tree scene and a text message reading “State Senator —‘s Idea of ‘Family Values?’” While it’s not clear where the group acquired the picture, the couple did feature it on their engagement blog.  In June, a friend noticed the mailers and told the couple about them.

And then things got ugly.

Now the couple and their wedding photographer, together with the Southern Poverty and Law Center, have filed a lawsuit against the group for copyright infringement, noting that “ … the doctrine of fair use is not intended to allow people to use copyrighted work just because it’s cheaper than paying for something.”

The couple claims to have “experienced sleepless nights and anxiety” over the past few months, and in an interview they voiced concern that young gay people might see the mailer and feel conflicting emotions. They say that they filed the suit “to try to fix or make this right.”

We wonder why Mr. Delgaudio’s group decided to use this picture rather than purchasing a stock photo and avoiding a costly court battle. And we don’t think this will end well for him (couldn’t happen to a nicer guy, though).

We should note that the candidates targeted by the group in question lost their primaries (both are Republicans), but we can’t imagine that this mailer had too much to do with the results. In the long run, we are fairly certain that Mr. Delgaudio will regret his decision.