The web has apparently over 3 trillion photographs so what are the chances of one of yours being picked – or maybe the correct phrase is ”lifted without permission” from the few you have on your blog — and then seeing it on the front page of a Sunday paper?
I would have said pretty slim, till I heard the popular “Mul Pituwa” program Sunday before last (15 March, 2009) host Bandula Padmakumara talking about a front page article on the Sunday Times article “Lost treasures to be brought home” and the photograph of Tara Devi.
Having written the blog post “Goddess Tara time to come home?” my ears naturally picked up. The photo glimpsed on the TV screen looked suspiciously like mine on the blog. Having had one more instance when another Sunday weekly carried a photo of mine without any credit. I did a dash to town to buy the paper and voila! there was my photo from my blog adorning the front page — not so much as a please, not even the much maligned phrase “courtesy of” - that is used blithely by most newspapers here.
Infuriating was a mild term to describe how I felt, cheated is more like it, considering this photograph was taken by me during a short stop in London in 2008 when this statue was on display at the British Museum. I had made a special visit to the British Museum for the sole purpose of seeing this statue, take this photograph and write the story.
My first letter to the editor went unanswered and no correction was carried last week. Are we surprised? Well, yes , since the other paper was quick to apologize and cartried a correction with a thumbnail photo. Today, after my second letter I got an e-mail response admitting that the Sunday Times obtained the photograph after a Google search but said ” We may have copied the picture from your website, but the website gave no credit line to the picture, and therefore, we could not have known the ownership of the photograph. As a practice we have no qualms in giving credit to an article, graphic or photograph, and would have been happy to give you the credit-line had we known it belonged to you,” and expressed “regret if we have caused you any inconvenience or pain of mind.” Obviously, sending an e-mail to get copyright clearance didn’t cross their mind. And they missed the © Important: Copyright Notice: All images and text in this site is copyrighted. No material from this blog may be used except as a direct reference to this site
Of course as bloggers all of you know from the blog stats I can say how many people accessed the site prior to 15 March and how many came via a Google search and as for the missing credit line – it is there clearly displaced. Further, a blog is your own personal diary and from what I learned during my graduate study days is that photographic works are protected by the mere fact of their creation. This is a fundamental basis of respecting works of authors .
When I talked about the lack of knowledge on copyright issues among the media here with another media colleague and the need to educate the journalists here he had this to say: “Society doesn’t need newspapers. What we need is good journalism. For a century, the imperatives to strengthen journalism and to strengthen newspapers have been so tightly wound as to be indistinguishable. That’s been a fine accident to have, but when that accident stops, as it is stopping before our eyes, we’re going to need lots of other ways to strengthen journalism instead.”
“So there comes a time when intellectual property of journalists, that maybe the work of accredited journalists or a 14 year old kid doing a blog has to be respected.”
On that debatable note let’s open the space for discussion – Are print newspapers as we know them dinosaurs in an age when most of us get our news from the electronic media and if they need to go foraging blog sites for free photos etc how important are our blog spaces and citizen journalism sites.
That brings us to the question what are our rights as bloggers and photographers — or do we not have any rights in this age when anyone and everyone copies everything possible. see an interesting well written piece Copyright is for Losers by Rupert Gray on Shahidul Alam’s blog
Of course print newspapers can argue that they have gate keepers to ensure quality unlike us bloggers who write without editorial supervision but then again dinosaurs were big and powerful too at one time. … As I write my radio is playing quite appropriately the famous Belafonte song “There’s hole in the bucket, Dear Lisa, Dear Lisa…”