Rexburg lawmaker removes EdNews’ photo from campaign video

Rep. Ron Nate’s campaign edited a video Friday to remove an Idaho Education News photograph that was used repeatedly without permission.

EdNews spoke to the first-term lawmaker five times this week demanding that Nate stop using EdNews’ original content. Dan Roberts, a Nate supporter who produced the original video, made public the edited version Friday afternoon.

The original video also was removed Friday from Nate’s personal and campaign Facebook pages. But the video was widely shared on social media this week — and on Friday afternoon, the original video featuring EdNews’ photo still appears on the Facebook page of Maria Olsen Nate, the legislator’s wife.

Nate last responded to EdNews on Thursday, when he pledged to edit the video and remove the photos. He did not return two phone calls on Friday.

At one point, Nate said to EdNews editor Jennifer Swindell, “I’m blown away that you care this much about it.”

EdNews does not give permission to use any of its content — stories, videos or photos — in political campaigns. Idaho Education News is an independent news source that does not endorse in political races.

Ronald Nate
Rep. Ron Nate speaks on the House floor Feb. 25. Nate used this photo without permission in his legislative newsletter and a campaign video. Photo by Andrew Reed / Idaho EdNews.

The situation began last week, when Nate sent out an e-newsletter to constituents, containing two photos belonging to EdNews. One was a photo of Nate debating on the House floor. Both photos were taken in the Statehouse by EdNews photographer Andrew Reed.

Swindell called Nate Monday and asked that he not use the photos in any capacity throughout the campaign. A link to the e-newsletter remained on Nate’s personal and campaign Facebook pages as of 2 p.m. Friday.

On Tuesday, Nate’s campaign supporters released a video on Nate’s Facebook page. The video included EdNews’ photo of Nate — the same photo used in the e-newsletter.

After the video’s release, Swindell contacted Nate again on Wednesday night. He refused to remove the photo from the video, and said he wasn’t clear the photos belonged to EdNews when he found them through a Google search.

“I have no way of knowing it’s yours,” Nate said.

When the photo comes up on a Google search, a link to IdahoEdNews.org is attached to the image.

“That doesn’t mean it’s your picture. There is no attribution. There is no watermark. It’s an honest mistake here,” Nate said.

Nate then offered to “make it right” with money.

“Can I just write you a check?” he asked.

EdNews does not accept money for the use of its original content.

“I don’t understand — this is beyond ridiculous to me,” Nate said.

On Thursday, in a conversation with EdNews reporter Kevin Richert, Nate requested that EdNews staff no longer take his picture. EdNews declined the request, and Richert pointed out to Nate that he is a public official who works in a public forum.

The dispute over the photos unfolded on social media this week — with several other journalists criticizing Nate’s decisions. In Facebook posts, Nate called the use of the photos a “misunderstanding,” and said EdNews had been “downright rude” in its pursuit of the matter.

On Friday, EdNews filed copyright infringement complaints with Facebook against Nate and Roberts over their use of EdNews’ photos on the social media platform.

Nate is a first-term Republican representative from Rexburg. He is an economics professor at BYU-Idaho. He faces a challenge from fellow Rexburg Republican Douglas Ricks in the May 17 primary.