A campaign television commercial critical of Colleen Hanabusa’s legislative record prominently featured a copyrighted photo belonging to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. The photo was altered to darken it and was used without the paper’s permission.
The ad, called "The Season," began airing Oct. 11 and was scheduled to end its run today. It featured a Honolulu Advertiser library photo from a 2004 story that can be found with a Google image search of Hanabusa’s name.
"We were not asked permission to run this photo," said Frank Bridgewater, vice president/editor of the Star-Advertiser. "And if we had been asked, the answer would have been no."
All content of the Star-Advertiser — and past issues of the Advertiser and Star-Bulletin — is copyrighted and cannot be used without the paper’s permission, he said.
Dylan Nonaka, executive director of the Hawaii Republican Party, declined comment.
The ad was paid for by the state GOP and the campaign for U.S. Rep. Charles Djou, who Hanabusa is trying to unseat. Djou’s campaign previously referred comment about the ad to the state party.
The ad, which features ominous clouds and stormy weather while sirens blare, was criticized by Hanabusa as overly negative and "insulting" to Hawaii voters. At a news conference she also mocked the GOP for using the unflattering photo.
"I understand that you don’t want to put your opponent in any kind of a flattering picture, but I think that if he wants a picture of me, I’d be happy to give it to him," she said. "I don’t even know where that picture came from, but I’m sure that he searched very hard."
The state GOP, on its Facebook page, posted a link to the photo and 2004 story.
"Colleen Hanabusa cried foul on Djou for Congress 2010 and (the state party’s) newest ad that points out her abysmal record," the publicly accessible post states. "She even cried about our choice of picture, saying it was mean spirited and unflattering."