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NZ Police delete social media posts after admitting they never paid for promo pic of Brad and Jennifer

There could be some red faces in the thin blue line.

New Zealand Police's tweet with Getty Images photo of Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston. Source: NZ Police/ Getty Images

It’s after New Zealand Police used a costly copyrighted photo - which they never had permission to use or paid for - on their social media accounts to try to gather more recruits.

The internet was set sizzling in January when a photo of former power couple Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston was taken after they had both won at the Screen Actors Guild Awards.

The New Zealand Police thought it was a good photo as well and used it across its social media platforms by posting it on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Police added the text “still thinking about what could have been?” and posted it with more text promoting the force, saying “Start your new career today at newcops.co.nz”.

The posts notched up thousands of likes and received support and acclaim.

But police never paid to use the photo, let alone for promotional purposes.

The image, which appears to be from photo agency Getty Images, costs as much as $650 for editorial use, but comes with the caveat that people wanting to use the photo for commercial or promotional purposes must contact Getty.

1 NEWS asked police where it got the photo from and if it paid taxpayer money to use it.

“The photo was taken off Google,” came the reply.

“We were unaware that the image was a Getty photo,” police deputy chief executive of media and communications Jane Archibald said in an Official Information Act response.

“In this instance we have reiterated the importance of knowing where images have come from and permissions / licences that may be required,” Ms Archibald said.

She said there was no approvals process for all of the force’s social media posts.

But AUT head of journalism Greg Treadwell said it was “copyright 101”.

“I’m very surprised that in 2020 the NZ police aren’t au fait with how copyright rules apply to online content. The idea that any image posted online is free-for-all content was debunked years ago,” he told 1 NEWS.

“While the NZ police might not be a for-profit organisation, Getty Images certainly is and I imagine would be most unhappy not to be paid or even asked,” he said.

Police have since taken the photo and promotional posts down.