Legal storm brewing over use of Trump's mug shot on campaign items

 September 5, 2023

A new legal battle could arise for former President Donald Trump, this time related to the use of his Georgia mug shot.

The famous image has been made viral online and has become the focus of bestselling items for Trump's campaign, leading to new questions about the copyright usage of the picture.

The question

"While there has been no official report on how much the sale of these items has brought in, Politico reported last week that the campaign had raised north of $7 million since the mug shot’s release, 'powered' by the sales of merchandise 'bearing Trump’s scowling mugshot,'" NBC News reported.

"But as various legal experts have noted, Trump’s sale of that mug shot, taken by the Fulton County sheriff, may violate U.S. copyright laws. This could mean that theoretically, the millions he is making off that photo may rightfully belong to the Fulton County sheriff — an entity that just happens to be in desperate need of funds to address the horrific conditions in the Fulton County Jail," it added.

$20 million and growing

"Former President Trump has raised more than $9.4 million since being processed and taking a mugshot in Fulton County, Georgia last week—bringing the Trump campaign’s fundraising numbers for the month of August to more than $20 million," Fox News reported.

"Fox News Digital has learned that 36,000 t-shirts with Trump's historic mugshot printed have been sold, bringing in more than $1.7 million. The Trump campaign also sold 24,000 mugshot coffee mugs, bringing in $864,000 and 8,600 mugshot posters, raking in $352,000," it added.

The X factor

Trump's mug shot was also used in his first return to X (formerly Twitter) since he was banned after Jan. 6, 2021.

He was later reinstated after Elon Musk purchased the company last year but had not posted an update to his 87 million followers until Aug. 24.

His image included the words, "Election interference" and "Never surrender!" in all caps.

The infamous image will certainly cost Trump in legal fees, however, as his upcoming trial will be a major televised event from Fulton County.

The publicity has had the opposite effect that Trump's opponents have hoped for, leading to an even greater popularity among the American people.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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