You could be forgiven if you've forgotten the names Mark and Patricia McCloskey — indeed, you could be counted lucky in that regard. But likely you recall the gun-waving couple that caught national headlines earlier this summer during the Black Lives Matter protests in St. Louis, even if the names attached to those figures failed to stick. They seemed likely candidates for a mere fifteen minutes of fame, but alas, it would appear that the pair that took to their front yard armed with guns might be somewhat confrontational! Who might have guessed?
Extending their time in the spotlight is a spat with a photographer from United Press International named Bill Greenblatt — the same photographer who captured the images of the McCloskeys that were splashed across the internet several months ago. It's truly a remarkable tale: the McCloskeys, rather than shrinking from the notoriety arising from the photographs, seem to have embraced it, even going so far as to use the most famous of these pictures as a Christmas card, which, sure.
The problem, of course, is that the McCloskeys didn't take that photograph, and don't hold the copyright to it, which belongs to Greenblatt. Greenblatt, in turn, decided to bill the couple for $1,500, the standard licensing fee for one of his photos. As Techdirt notes, there are some fair use questions about the couple using a picture of themselves, but it's likely that their use fell short of the standards that would permit them to do so. Regardless, it might have been interesting to see how it would play out in a very normal and not crazy court proceeding.
As you might have guessed, that isn't what happened. The McCloskeys decided to file a lawsuit of their own, alleging that the photo is somehow illegitimate because Greenblatt was trespassing on their property when he took it — again, allegedly. The lawsuit makes further claims about how Greenblatt and UPI and others are profiting off of the images and how those images have garnered them a degree of infamy that we are to believe they are uncomfortable with and have been distressed by.
While we can't ascertain the validity of the couple's claim to emotional harm, on the grounds of trespassing, there's not much merit; Greenblatt is a journalist, covering a story, and seeing as the protesters weren't charged with trespassing, and that the trespassing fines are far less than the $25,000 being asked for by the McCloskeys, it seems unlikely any damages will be paid out. The rest remains to be sorted; whatever the outcome, claims that the couple simply want to avoid the spotlight seem specious at best.