State legislature’s official photographer tries to make Pick Justice pull down Isadore Hall photo

The paid official portrait photographer for the California legislature has issued a written warning to Pick Justice, telling us we can’t use his photo of former lawmaker Isadore Hall in our new YouTube video because he owns the copyright.

Marc Kallweit, the photographer, ordered us to pull down the photo from our “propaganda ad” because we didn’t have his permission to use it.

This comes after Hall blocked Pick Justice from his Twitter page.

“Your propaganda ad featuring Gov Brown and Isadore Hall features my photo of then CA State Assembly member Hall,” Kallweit said in his February 24 message. “You do not have the permission to use my photograph. I read your disclaimer, it does not protect you. Remove immediately.”

Isadore Hall’s official state portrait is in public domain

We questioned Kallweit about ownership, because we obtained the photo from Wikimedia Commons, which states flatly that the Isadore Hall portrait is indeed public property and is not under copyright protection. So anybody is free to use it.

There is a high barrier for posting photos on Wikimedia Commons to ensure that the photographer’s rights are not violated.

The Hall portrait was uploaded to Wikimedia Commons in 2012, with the “author” credited to the “Office of the California Assembly.” Wikimedia Commons shows that there has been no attempt to modify or request deletion of the image.

What Wikimedia Commons says

Wikimedia Commons states, “This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the State of California that was in any way ‘involved in the governmental process’ and ‘prepared, owned, used or retained by any state or local agency’ or officer. That work is available pursuant to court interpretation of the Sunshine Amendment of the Constitution of California, and/or the California Public Records Act (CPRA), which contained no relevant provision(s) for copyright.”

“It is not copyrighted because (lacking an exception in statute like those for works of the Department of Toxic Substances Control or works of certain colleges established by statute) ‘unrestricted disclosure is required.’ See County of Santa Clara v. CFAC,” Wikimedia Commons continued. “In brief, the ‘CPRA contains no provisions either for copyrighting [this work] or for conditioning its release on an end user or licensing agreement by the requester. The record thus must be disclosed as provided in the CPRA, without any such conditions or limitations.'”

Finally, we were assured of the freedom to reproduce the ex-lawmaker’s official portrait by Wikimedia’s final disclaimer: “This file has been identified as being free of known restrictions under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights.

No follow up

Pick Justice corresponded with Kallweit toward resolving the issue. “Do you want the facts of my contract, or believe things you read on the internet?” he asked.

We requested the facts of his contract as a way to “be helpful to resolve the matter quickly.” He did not respond.