Image of Imelda Marcos on her 93rd birthday causes stir amid copyright claims

Picture of the mother of Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr from 'The Kingmaker' has been used without permission

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Imelda Marcos is used to being the subject of controversy, but this time she's not the cause of it. Instead, it's a Philippines media company that's come under fire.

A photograph of the mother of Philippines President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr was used as part of an advertisement campaign for her 93rd birthday.

Scroll through the gallery above to see photos of Imelda Marcos through the decades

The billboard, which was seen in the City of Mandaluyong on Saturday, shows the former first lady in a red gown, with the caption "Happy 93th Birthday First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos".

It wasn't only the glaring spelling mistake (93th) that got people talking, but the fact the image was taken from the 2019 documentary The Kingmaker, which centred on the career of Imelda and the lives of her family members.

"Clearly, whoever stole my image to wish Imelda Happy Birthday doesn’t understand copyright infringement," wrote American director Lauren Greenfield on Twitter, in a post that has been liked more than 30,000 times.

In a separate post, Greenfield, who is also an artist and documentary photographer, calls out Digital Out-of-Home Ph, the company that owns the billboard, and its founder Alvin Carranza, "a known Marcos apologist", she wrote.

"Regardless of his political views, the media industry is not going to appreciate copyright infringement as it puts everyone’s IP at risk of abuse. Bad business!"

It didn't take long for Digital Out-of-Home Ph to issue an apology.

"We must confess that we were unaware of your copyright, and we appreciate that you brought the matter to our attention," the company said.

Their statement went on to say that as soon as they were made aware of the situation, "we immediately took the greeting down".

"We take full responsibility for the mistake, and we are truly sorry."

Plenty of Twitter users weighed in on the controversy, with one posting a photo of another billboard elsewhere in Manila using the same image.

"The photo clearly belongs to Ms. @lgreen66 Lauren Greenfield, director of the documentary film, The Kingmaker," wrote another user alongside a picture of the film's poster.

Imelda is the mother of Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr, who was sworn in as the 17th president of the Philippines on June 30. He is the son of ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Imelda's husband and 10th president of the Philippines, who died in 1989.

Greenfield is also known for her work on The Queen of Versailles, a 2012 documentary that follows a billionaire couple as they begin construction on a mansion inspired by Versailles, as well as 2006's Thin, the story of four women suffering from anorexia and bulimia in South Florida.

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Updated: July 03, 2022, 7:52 AM