Artist of image Steve King used to promote potential civil war may sue him for copyright infringement

The artist of an image that Rep. Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingLiz Cheney hits back at Ocasio-Cortez over concentration camp comments: 'This isn't model Congress' Ocasio-Cortez on concentration camp remarks: Liz Cheney, GOP 'manipulating pain for political purposes' Ocasio-Cortez fundraises off criticism from Steve King MORE (R-Iowa) used to suggest there may be a modern day civil war between red and blue states is vowing to sue the congressman for copyright infringement if he doesn't apologize for the post. 

“The point is to hold people accountable for the things they post — especially when you’re a public figure,” Paul Bain, an attorney for illustrator Yarek Waszul, told The Washington Post.

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The Post noted that Waszul originally crafted the image of Democratic-leaning states fighting with GOP-leaning ones for a 2013 New York Times book review.

A spokesperson for King did not return a request for comment from The Washington Post. King's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill. 

King in mid-March shared the image in question as part of a meme imagining a civil war.

“Wonder who would win,” King said in the Facebook post, followed by a smirking emoji. 

"Folks keep talking about another civil war; one side has about 8 trillion bullets while the other side doesn’t know which bathroom to use," the meme reads, which appears to be a reference to Democrats' support of gender-neutral bathrooms.  

King, who has faced scrutiny for his divisive rhetoric on issues such as immigration, deleted the image just days after the post was published. He later said that he wasn't the one who shared the meme and that he wasn't aware of the issue until after it had been published. 

Bain reportedly sent King's office a letter last week calling on him to prove that he had destroyed the offending material by April 5. The letter requested that he issue “a full written apology and retraction” on all of his social media accounts, according to the Post.

The letter also accuses King of violating Waszul’s "moral rights" by misusing the image he had illustrated, according to a copy obtained by the Post. It says Waszul is eligible for compensation for damages under U.S. federal and state laws. 

“To be very clear," Bain wrote. “While some ‘folks’ may be ‘talking about another civil war,’ our client certainly is not talking about that.”

Waszul told the Post that seeing the image he created attached to "such a callous message is a real nightmare."

"I would never sign my name to or promote any kind of hate or intolerance," he said. "This meme is counter to the original spirit of my picture, which was to depict and caution against hostility and vitriol of divisive political discourse.”