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Youth Defence

Youth Defence under investigation over use of image in anti-abortion campaign

Pro-life campaigners Youth Defence are being investigated to determine whether they breached copyright in the use of one of the images used in their recent anti-abortion campaign.

AN IMAGE USED by pro-life campaigners Youth Defence is being investigated to determine whether it breached the license agreement of the company from which it was purchased.

This was revealed after images on their site were found to have been altered to include a required disclaimer which was missing from their recent campaign, which included billboards, leaflets and bus and Luas ads.

iStockPhoto - which sells stock images for third party use – state that any images used should be “accompanied by a statement that indicates that the Content is being used for illustrative purposes only and any person depicted in the Content is a model” where it:

depicts such person in a potentially sensitive subject matter, including, but not limited to mental and physical health issues, social issues, sexual or implied sexual activity or preferences, substance abuse, crime, physical or mental abuse or ailments

In the case of the image in question, it appears alongside the caption “Abortion Tears Her Life Apart.”

(Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland)

When contacted by on Wednesday, the campaign director for Youth Defence, Íde Nic Mhathúna, stated that they had a long-standing relationship with the company and that “the matter has been closed”.

She said that talk of wrongdoing was “not a revelation,” saying that the recent post on the blog red lemonade about the issue was a case of someone trying “desperately to dig up information” when nothing new existed.

She then went on to say that iStockPhoto was aware of the anti-abortion campaign and that the “images will be used in our campaign again.”

Internal investigation

An investigation by found that the images on Youth Defence’s website give the impression that they are in compliance with the company’s rules, with both the billboard and bus ad containing the disclaimer “PIC POSED BY MODEL.”

Images of the same billboard – identifiable by the billboard number on the top left – found elsewhere on the web (here and here) show no such disclaimer, however. Other photographs of the ad, as seen here and in the image above do not carry the required disclaimer either.

When contacted the Compliance Enforcement department within iStockPhoto with this information, we were put in contact with a Kylie Taylor from Getty Images, who stated:

Rights and compliance is of the utmost importance to iStockphoto and we are investigating this internally. While we cannot comment on current investigations, we can confirm that how a client chooses to incorporate an image into their communication is of their decision, provided they are in compliance with the license agreement.

In our attempts to identify the billboard in question, advertisers JCDecaux confirmed that the reference number corresponded to a billboard in Belfast which no longer exists, having been removed approximately 12 months ago.

When contacted Íde Nic Mhathúna again yesterday with our findings, she stated that the campaign billboards are between cycles and that “there are no billboards up at present.”

When asked how the image of a uniquely identifiable billboard that appears on Youth Defence’s site contains a disclaimer while other images of the same billboard do not, she stated that this image was representative of “any future advertisements,” before confirming that none of the materials that Youth Defence had used in their campaign up until this point bore this disclaimer.

When further questioned as to how a billboard which existed in Belfast before being ripped down 12 months ago contained an anti-abortion image from a campaign which only started in June and was limited to the Republic of Ireland, Nic Mhathúna responded that the image was a “mock-up” and that it was “used for market research”.

In response to the statement from Getty Images that they were “investigating this internally,” she said that “as far as we’re concerned the matter is closed,” while stating that she did not believe it to be anyone else’s business other than that of Youth Defence and iStockPhoto.

Read: Column: These billboards simply bring the reality of abortion into focus >

Read: Column: This campaign is offensive – and flies in the face of the facts >

Read: Senator’s criticism of abortion ads an ‘odious abuse of taxpayer-funded privilege’ >

Read: ASAI powerless to act on anti-abortion billboards >

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