Judge blocks Tucson punk band's use of wounded officer photo

2009-02-25T00:00:00Z Judge blocks Tucson punk band's use of wounded officer photoBy Brian J. Pedersen Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
February 25, 2009 12:00 am  • 

A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order Wednesday to keep a local punk rock band from continuing to use a photo of a slain Tucson police officer for its album cover.

“I guess the bar for common decency is pretty low these days, isn’t it,” U.S. District Court judge David C. Bury said before issuing the restraining order.

Bury told two members of the group Awful Truth that the photo, which was published in the Arizona Daily Star on June 2, 2008, is protected by the Copyright Act of the United States and therefore cannot be used without permission.

The photo shows Tucson police officers giving medical attention to Hite, 43, who was shot in the head on June 1, 2008 during a crosstown chase and shooting spree.

Hite died the next day. The man accused of shooting him, 26-year-old David “Nick” Delich, is scheduled to go to trial in January 2010.

Damon Pillsbury and David Stine, who said they are the only true members of Awful Truth — “the other three guys were just in the band,” Pillsbury said — told Bury they believe they are allowed to use the photo without permission.

“We think this whole thing falls under fair use, and that something like that can only be determined on a case-by-case basis” Pillsbury said.

Bury disagreed, telling Pillsbury and Stine he saw “no credible argument” for a fair use exception, and told them they were banned from using the image in any manner until a full hearing could be held on the Star’s copyright infringement claim.

Contact reporter Brian J. Pedersen at 573-4224 or bjp@azstarnet.com.

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