MICHAEL Moore may wind up in court with a prize-winning journalist who claims the mountain-size moviemaker ripped off his most famous photo to use in a George W. Bush-bashing rant.
Last year, to illustrate one of his anti-administration bombasts, the portly polemicist posted on his michaelmoore.com Web site a heartbreaking photo from Iraq of an American soldier carrying the blood-spattered body of a child. The picture was snapped by acclaimed independent war correspondent Michael Yon, who has been very careful about how his images are distributed and goes out of his way to make sure they aren't used for demagogic diatribes.
Yon - a Special Forces vet who posts regular dispatches from the front at michaelyon-online.com - is considered by many as the "Ernie Pyle of our time."
Yon has tried to contact Moore for seven months to discuss his unauthorized use of the poignant snap, but hasn't heard a word back from the director of "Fahrenheit 9/11." Now, the fed-up photojournalist has told his lawyer to ready a lawsuit against Moore for copyright infringement.
The misappropriated photo shows US Army Maj. Mark Bieger cradling an Iraqi girl wounded by car-bomb shrapnel. She died a short time later.
"The implication on Moore's Web site was that our soldiers were somehow responsible for that kid being wounded," Yon's lawyer, John Mason, told Page Six. "That is absolutely not true. She was the victim of an insurgent's car bomb." Yon said: "I've never sued anyone in my life. It looks like Mr. Moore might be the first." Page Six e-mailed Moore for his response, but he didn't get back to us, either.
The picture was voted by Time readers as the top photo of 2005. Bruce Willis has said he hopes to produce a movie based on Yon's experiences with the Deuce Four unit.