Resident can get non-watermark mugshots so why can’t the news media?

We’ve written before about the red watermarks that appear on a lot of mugshots supplied by county jails and have made extensive efforts to stop that practice. The Kentucky Jailers Association joined in the effort several weeks ago, sending a social media alert to all jailers that mugshots supplied to the news media should not have the red watermark/copyright line diagonally across the mugshot. While many jailers have taken notice of that, there are still a lot that continue with the old way. At a glance, it appears most of the infractions are when a newspaper, or even the broadcast media, are not located within the county so the jailer sends a watermark photo.

It was interesting to note a couple of weeks ago that a resident — not related at all to the media in any way — posted mugshots of two men charged with breaking into vehicles in a subdivision in Georgetown. The mugshots were posted on a NextDoor Neighbor site for residents of the particular subdivision. So here’s the resident posting an alert that two Frankfort men had been charged with numerous vehicle break-ins and he posted the mugshots.

Note on the mugshots here there are no watermarks whatsoever. So I guess the jails will gladly supply non-watermark photos to the public but not the media?


‘Pictures released to the media should not have a copyright across them’

Here’s On Second Thought article from March 1 that has the Kentucky Jailers Association message to all jailers:

Renee Craddock, with the Kentucky Jailers Association, sent a message to all jailers this past week, concerning the use of the red watermarks on jail mugshots.

Keep this message handy and if your local jail provides a mugshot with the red watermarks, show them this message and encourage them to contact Renee. She’s been helpful to a couple of newspapers recently who were given those marked mugshots.

“From Renee Craddock:

“Hey everyone. Just a friendly reminder that pictures released to the media should not have a copyright across them.

“As a reminder, we passed a bill that outlawed the use of mugshots for profit. You can still put the watermark on them on the jail’s website, but if a member of the media asks for the mugshot, the watermark has to be removed.


You can contact the Kentucky Jailers Association at (859) 904-9223.

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