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    A Canadian Mom Fought Back When A Company Put An Image Of Her Daughter With Down Syndrome In An Ad

    Score one for "computer savvy strangers."

    Christie Hoos is the mother of Becca, 10, who has Down Syndrome and is also battling Leukemia. Hoos was at the hospital with Becca when she received a disturbing message from a friend telling her that Becca's photo was part of a Spanish ad campaign.

    This Picture is My Daughter, Not Down Syndrome #DownSyndrome…

    Hoos, who lives in Langley, B.C., was outraged. The photo of Becca had first appeared on her blog. She had not given anyone permission to use it.

    "My daughter has been made the poster child for a prenatal testing kit called Tranquility," Hoos wrote. "As if she were a cautionary tale: don’t let this happen to you."

    The ad was prominently displayed on a building in Madrid. At the same time Hoos learned of the stolen image, Spanish parents of children with Down Syndrome were expressing their outrage at the ad. Their concerns soon reached the Spanish press.

    "We do not understand how they could use that picture," one mother told Spanish paper La Razón. "It's a clear form of discrimination."

    The head of a Spanish organization representing people with disabilities said the ad "is a form of harassment of people with disabilities."

    Meanwhile, back in Canada, Hoos blogged about the ad, calling it "disparaging towards individuals with Down Syndrome."

    "A beautiful shot of her face – one of my favourites, posted on a stock photo website and distributed for free," Hoos wrote. "As if that wasn’t bad enough, it was stolen again by a Swiss bio-medical company named Genoma."

    Hoos discovered the photo was also on Genoma's website. She was, however, happy to see that the ad had "incited an avalanche of complaints from concerned parents and disability rights activists in Spain."

    Parents of children with Down Syndrome in Canada and Spain were now united in their fight against the ad.

    After receiving complaints, Genoma stopped using the image and removed the banner. The CEO published a letter saying the photo "was meant to convey a message of life and vitality to the healthcare professionals."

    CEO Frederic Amar said the company purchased the image of Becca from a stock image website, but that it had never intended to to display the banner in Madrid.

    "It was the result of an internal error of communication," he wrote.

    Hoos also discovered that the stock image website that sold the photo had removed its "Down Syndrome" page. She expressed thanks for "the efforts of computer savvy strangers driven by no agenda of their own, only a desire to right a wrong."

    We are overwhelmed by hurt and anger, but also appreciation for support from all over the world - especially Spain. Thank you! Gracias!

    And now her blog prominently displays a copyright notice:

    It should be obvious, and it certainly is enshrined in law regardless, but every picture and word on this blog (unless otherwise indicated) is the sole property of the author.

    Contact Craig Silverman at

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