Poking around on Gov. Martin O'Malley's official web site, we encountered a strange thing: In order to download a picture from the "Governor's Photo Gallery" you need to first agree to the terms of service, which read in part that "these photographs are intended only for personal, private use. Any digital alteration, manipulation, dissemination, distribution, or copying of these photos without authorization for other than PERSONAL use is strictly prohibited. Unauthorized reproduction, distribution, or exhibition for commercial purposes may violate federal laws and incur prosecution and severe penalties."
Never mind that the "personal, private use" part reminded us of whoever it was who used to run ads in the back of City Paper asking for muscle-shirt pictures of "Martin O'Manly"--we strained to think of a case where pictures of the Gov, taken by his chief photographer, wouldn't be public information, freely available to all.
Jay Baker, O'Malley's chief photographer, says it's a holdover from the previous administration. He's never had to refuse permission, Baker says, but they keep the terms of service there because they don't want other politicians using pictures of themselves with the governor in their campaign and promotional material.
Baker asked us how other government sites handled the same thing, so we checked. Whitehouse.gov offers slide shows of, for instance, President Obama's visit last month to the Supreme Court, taken by official photographer Pete Souza, but no legal warnings on their use.
Tom Darden, who served as chief photographer for former Gov. Robert Ehrlich, retired in 2007 and couldn't be readily located for comment, but a search of the Wayback Machine shows that Baker is right--the terms for downloading the photos show up on the official gubernatorial web site as early as 2005 under Gov. Ehrlich.
Update: The mystery of the Martin O'Manly ad has been solved. Our art director Joe MacLeod owned up to being the one behind it, and he says the pictures were for a 2003 Martin O'Calendar, trace evidence of which can still be found in this story.