Neo-Nazis Use Actors' Stock Photos in Propaganda.

Marketing Extremism

An attractive couple admires their darling infant. A mother and daughter paint pictures in a lovely park. A handsome man works at a desk. The videotaped images of these good-looking white people are accompanied by the reassuring voice of a male narrator. "There's a growing feeling in white America that something is missing. What happened to us?" the voiceover asks. "Where can white Americans go to understand the changing world around us? ... White America, spend some time with us. See how bright the future can be. NationalVanguard.org."

As corny as the images are, this is no ordinary 30-second commercial. It was created last April as propaganda for a Web site called National Vanguard that was run by Kevin Strom and the National Alliance, America's best-known neo-Nazi group. A few months later, when Strom quit the Alliance, he hijacked the Web site and the ad. Today, Strom uses the ad -- and offers a downloadable version on the site -- to advertise his new neo-Nazi group, called, conveniently, National Vanguard.

There's just one problem. Some of the same images used in the propaganda film appeared in a recent promotion for an Alabama TV station. Station officials confirmed that they were not of neo-Nazis at all -- they were stock video bought from an Ocala, Fla., firm called Digital Juice, which bills itself as the "world leader in royalty-free professional animations, stock footage, music, layered graphics, clip art and templates." It turns out that almost all of the images in the film came from Digital Juice, and were used in apparent violation of its end user agreement, which says images may not be used in a "defamatory" or "scandalous" manner.

Digital Juice declined any comment on the use of its footage. It also declined to identify the nine actors who now star in a neo-Nazi propaganda film. It seems clear that none of the actors know of the way their images are being used.

This was not the only time that white supremacist groups have used stock photos in apparent violation of rules laid out by agencies that provide them. This November, a Web posting announced that long-time extremist Ed Fields had left the National Alliance and joined up with Strom's National Vanguard. Accompanying the posting was a photo of a middle-aged white man reading Fields' anti-Semitic publication, The Truth at Last. The caption claims that Fields is the source of the picture, but it was actually sold by iStockphoto of Calgary, Canada. That company's end user agreement requires that its images not be used in a "defamatory" way or to discuss "potentially sensitive" social issues. Taken by Dutch photographer Maartje van Caspel, the photo was electronically altered to insert Fields' publication.