4-Year-Old Murder Victim’s Photo Adorns Child Care Advertisement


You’re looking for an image to illustrate your ad promoting child-care services and find a portrait of an adorable tot, obviously free for the taking because it’s on the Internet. What could wrong?

More than you could dream up in your worst nightmares, as promoters of the Montreux Jazz Festival have learned after misappropriating an image of a child who turned out to be the victim in one France’s most notorious murder cases of recent times.

The body of Gregory Villemin was discovered near his home in eastern France in 1984, after years of his parents receiving threatening anonymous phone calls. The killer was never conclusively identified, but nearly 30 years of investigation produced several prime suspects, many more theories and one grisly revenge killing.

And a colossal headache for the jazz festival organizers when they pulled an Agence France-Presse photo of Villemin off the Internet to adorn a flyer promoting nursery services at the festival, one of the world’s premier jazz events.

The photo found and used by the festival

The photo found and used by the festival

Festival organizers promptly pulled the publication and apologized for the screw-up, which they blamed on a “very young employee” who had never heard of the murder case. ┬áThat may not be enough Villemin’s parents, however, who called the explanation “pitiful” in an interview with European news service The Local and said they may sue for damages over what they see as a crass and deliberate “stunt.”

(via The Local and The Daily Mail)

  • Gerdy

    The parents will not sue the festival, as french newspaper Le Figaro stated today :

  • Jonathan Maniago

    No excuses. Sue the bastard(s) responsible for this.

  • Vlad Dusil

    Uhhh that’s bad.

  • ISO640

    This isn’t a matter of not knowing about the murder case, this is a matter of using a photo that comes from the Internet would be my guess. Meaning, the “very young employee” was probably using the image without permission.

  • Mark

    Hopefully said employee with suffer the consequences of not doing his/her due diligence.

  • Gman

    Hopefully said employee gets proper training on the use of images from royalty free sources and the person in charge who approved this going to print gets a swift kick up the arse.

  • guest

    My money is on the very young employee being a scapegoat.

    I’ve worked as a designer full time for 13 years, and the number of times I’ve had to explain to (argue with) managers and clients alike that just because something is on the internet does not make it free for anyone to use, is staggering. I can also see how someone new to the workforce could be afraid to say ‘no’.

  • OverfiendUK

    Silly mistake at best. I have never heard of the murder but then I’m
    from the UK and was 6 yrs old at the time. Proper training needed as
    Gman said. I gotta wonder how brain dead the employee was tho to think
    it was a good idea to grab an image from the web. 9 times outa 10 he/she
    would’ve gotten away with it but as luck would have it not in this
    My heart goes out to the family of Gregory Villemin. Saddened by their loss.

  • Simon

    Users of photos should pay for that use. If you buy a photo from a professional or reputable agency this appalling situation is very unlikely to happen. If you were to eat some food you found lying in the street, don’t be surprised if you get very ill!

  • Mantis

    Jesus H. Tap-dancing Christ

  • Odille Esmonde-Morgan

    I’m a photographer. If they’d gone and paid some rights for an image they would have known what they were getting. This is what happens when these stingy so and sos try to get something for nothing. Appalling.

  • Ian

    A “very young” employee may have pulled the image, but surely he answers to someone? His boss is the one who needs his backside kicked.

  • Olivier

    You forgot to say that the “very young employee” (who I believe was in fact an intern or a summer short-term contract) was not French.
    It doesn’t excuse the mistake from any supervisor/manager that should have checked where the photo came from, but he obviously couldn’t know about this case.

    I’m a 26-year-old French citizen, I have of course heard of the case many times, but couldn’t identify the boy on the picture at all… that may be sad to say, but one can’t be blamed for not recognizing a child murdered 30 years ago…
    Someone should take the blame, however, for not checking this intern’s work and the source of the photo.

  • NiagaraTim

    they should be looking for those responsible for leaving a photo like that in the internet for all to copy and use… they should find the origin where the photo resides and delete it… as matter of fact all photos of any victims should be pulled out in respect to the grieving families. the promotor and the employee should not be blamed for this mistake..

  • Matt

    Wow, really?

  • me

    here in the usa it wouldn’t even made the headlines, hes not black

  • Alan Chun – Pro Tog

    I have come across some pricks in my time, but you sir are the f*****g cactus!

  • Alan Chun – Pro Tog

    “Youngster” “Intern” “whatever!” The fact is that his/her superiors did not stop it and are far more guilty.
    I hope this will teach them a valuable lesson, PAY FOR YOUR IMAGES IN FUTURE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Benicio

    they should unplug the internet and burn all printing presses!!

  • semi

    So no news photos of any victims on the internet? Ever?

    I think you have a screw loose.

  • Anthony Thurston

    I agree with this completely. 1984 is a long time ago. I would liken this to a someone of my generation ( I am 25) in the US not recognizing a photo of one of the Manson Family murderers. We of course know about the event, that doesn’t mean I could identify everyone involved.

  • Anthony Thurston

    I agree, this is far more on the supervisors than the employee/intern (who apparently is not even french).

  • Heize

    You know what? In Finland, Sanoma makes you sign a contract, which states pretty much that the photographer would be responsible for the use of this image, even though they would have selled it. Makes me kind of glad I never signed that piece of crap.