Mother of child in ‘Success Kid’ meme threatens Rep. Steve King with a lawsuit for use of image in campaign ad
An attorney for the mother sent a cease and desist letter to King after his campaign used an image of ‘Success Kid’ in a Facebook post to encourage fundraising for the campaign
The mother of the child known as the popular internet meme “Success Kid” is threatening Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, with a lawsuit after his campaign used the copyrighted image without her consent, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.
Laney Griner, the 44-year-old mother of Sam, whose photograph went viral as Success Kid in 2007, told the Post that “it was just kind of shocking” to see her son’s image associated with a campaign ad for King, adding, “There’s just no amount of money I would take for that.”
King’s campaign is accused of using an image of “Success Kid” in a Facebook post to encourage fundraising for his campaign, according to the Post. A reporter for Media Matters for America tweeted a photo of the post, which is how Griner discovered that the copyrighted photo had been used without her permission.
“When you look at Steve King’s Facebook, it’s just one super offensive post after another,” Griner told the Post, explainingt she did not want her son to be connected to “anything so negative and vitriolic.”
Griner’s attorney sent a cease-and-desist letter to King on Monday, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
“Not only have you falsely implied by your unauthorized use that ‘Success Kid’ is somehow associated with and supports your campaign, you have misrepresented to the general public that you are acting on behalf of and even have some proprietary interest in ‘Success Kid’ and Sam’s image,” the letter claims, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The letter claims that Griner has licensed the image to “stalwart American companies,” such as Coca-Cola, General Mills and Marriott, according to The Hollywood Reporter, adding, “Unlike you and your campaign, they followed the law, gave our client the opportunity to approve or disapprove their uses, bargained for licenses, and paid for the rights they legitimately acquired.”
The Facebook post had been removed by Monday night from King’s page, but it was still on the website WinRed, according to the Post.
The cease-and-desist letter demands that King remove the image from any websites associated with him or his campaign, as well as provide refunds to those who donated because of the “Success Kid” post and notify them that the image is not associated with the campaign, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
King has been known for making controversial statements, including questioning how terms such as “white supremacist” and “white nationalist” had become offensive, according to The Hill.