President Donald Trump told the public that his wife Melania’s controversial jacket proclaiming, “I really don’t care” was directed at the media. But reports on Monday suggested the First Lady cares a great deal about news coverage of her—enough to sign a deal with a photo agency that guaranteed certain photos of her could be used only in positive news stories.
NBC News reports that Melania Trump earned between $100,000 and $1 million in royalties in 2017 from the photo service Getty Images according to the president’s financial disclosure form. The First Lady had a deal with Getty stating that 187 of the photos of her that it licensed to news outlets—all taken between 2010 and 2016 by a Belgian photographer named Regine Mahaux—had to be used in positive coverage of Melania Trump.
Many news outlets have subscriptions with Getty Images through which they regularly download photos for online and broadcast news stories.
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The photos that were subject to the First Lady’s agreement are marked as “restricted assets” on the site, and users who attempt to license them are told thay can be used only for “positive stories.”
A number of news organizations used the photos in 2017—indirectly paying the First Lady for the use of her image. Outlets that used the images include NBC, the Daily Mail, the Houston Chronicle, Fox News, Conde Nast, and Yahoo News.
As Newsweek reported, “Such royalty deals are common for celebrities, but one for a first lady is not and it’s even rarer for a media outlet to guarantee what kind of coverage it would grant the subject of a story.”
NBC and other outlets reported they were not aware of the Getty agreement or that any portion of the royalties for the photos would go to the Trump family. Some organizations including Yahoo News and the San Francisco Chronicle deleted the images on Melania Trump from their websites after news of the agreement broke.
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