Trinidad Newsday Steals a Photo?

Trinidad Newsday, in the Business section today, used a photo from without the permission of the owner – me. The unauthorized use of photos is now a  common method of law breaking used by thieves, bloggers, and unscrupulous newspaper editors in the modern world. This unlawful use of the photo might not have been a problem if it wasn’t used in an article discussing the Intellectual Property Rights of local farmers. I am not going to use this blog post to ridicule and embarrass a local daily newspaper that already has been ridiculed and humiliated for firing one of the country’s top columnist for being ethical. I am simply going to state in this blog post how flattered I am that one of my photos was used again with the watermark cropped out almost as if it was done by a common thief who is accustomed to hiding the evidence.

I am not complaining as much as I am having fun with the cropping people at Newsday. Maybe it’s not Newsday’s fault as they may have contracted out the Business Newsday service to the lowest bidder rather than the most moral one. Maybe the people at Newsday need to remember that you always get less than what you pay for.

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41 thoughts on “Trinidad Newsday Steals a Photo?

  1. You don’t want to say ‘steal’? How about ‘teef’ then?

    Apparently the local newspapers do this ALL THE TIME. (Check out Chennette’s posts on this issue some time back.) I hope you write them a scary letter – at the very least!

  2. they stole… please send them an invoice this _ish has to be punished… unless your anonymity is more valuable… i doh read d papers so i eh go know if dey tief my ting buh oh gosh man…

    • It’s the irony of the article more not any pittance involved 😉 As for anonymity, I suppose the newspapers know who I am but you never know what anybody really knows.

  3. This is ridiculous – I am eager to hear how they explain the cropping – Express used to reply with some kind of justification or, if not, we sending to our lawyers. And the lawyers just delay…being one myself I am extra annoyed but will persist.

    Invoice them. Irony is – there’s no blameless newspaper to whom we can write and complain…maybe we can get a tv station to highlight the problem?

    • It’s the little man vs the big corporation type thing. Bullying takes place in many places and in many ways. I suppose if embarrassment can be used to get people to behave in a more professional manner then blogs spreading the word can go a long way in correcting wrongs. So far, I don’t think big local companies can be embarrassed into behaving properly.

  4. Send them an invoice. Three times the amount that you think that the picture is worth. More if they removed your copyright information.

  5. Richard / Taran, thanks for the support and invoicing sounds like the right thing to do. The credibility of a newspaper is judged by its behavior towards readers. A newspaper can’t expect to spew high moral values in their editorials but behave in the opposite way in real life without losing credibility. They are jack-hammering their own foundation.

    • Thanks Michael, it really is amazing how some people who should know better view the concept of public domain. Sometimes it’s a convenient concept though. I am not being harsh on the Newsday but I just think they should have at least asked for permission and failing that then give credit. You know the story of the corrupt public official who started of taking a few dollars from the collection plate and eventually progressed into stealing a whole church 😉

      I shortened the URL for the link you posted –

  6. Pingback: Trinidad Newsday Steals a Photo? (via This Beach Called Life – aka_lol’s blog) « ban-d-wagonist

  7. I’m seeing a polite but firm e-mail titled “Photographers have IP rights too” noting the source of the image and the extent of the theft (removing a watermark is particularly obnoxious).
    You should send this letter to the editor in chief, knowing that it will be intercepted by her secretary.
    The response shoudl be clear and unequivocal. This is what happened. This is what I expect you to do in response. Invite a formal response with clear contact information. When it doesn’t come, send a print version of the original letter advising of the infringement with a reasonable invoice for the use via TTPost signature delivery (be sure to add escalating costs to your invoice, inclusive of phone calls and other aggravation related expenses).
    Realistically, efforts at punishment don’t work because it’s too easy to ignore. Best to go for Pavlov. An unwelcome action should be met by a firm, clear response.

    • Mark, someone just pointed out to me that the Newsday may not have found the image on my website but on some other site, meaning they may not have known the origin of the photo as photos get propagated on the net like wildfire – hence they could argue ignorance. As you said though, once they do learn of the origin, however, they should offer to make some reasonable payment and an apology.

      You look like you had similar experience with copyright infringements. I think blog post like this and the excellent comments made should get the ethical folks at the Newsday to take notice and make every effort not to repeat this embarrassing “mistake.”

      • It is true they could have found it somewhere else – the Express in one of its breaches tried to say they saw my Doubles photo in other places so there…(paraphrasing). However, they took it off some other blog without asking that blogger either! And had the gall to TELL me where they found the photo they stole 😀 In any event, I could prove ownership and I even got the “source” blog to credit me.
        The point is – ignorance of YOUR specific right is not an excuse – the only question they should ask themselves as publishers is if “Do I have the right to publish this photo?” If they don’t, either because they cannot establish ownership or copyright/licensing status, or they have not received permission from the owner then they should not publish. And once you can show you own the photo and you did not give any permission to publish, then they owe you.

        • Good point Chennette. It looks like all the media houses in Trinidad and Tobago don’t believe in the theory of copyright which goes to show the mentality of the people managing the print media. I used to believe you could embarrass professionals to do the right thing but I guess media managers are more into sleaze than into their profession. But as Mark pointed out below, we must be careful not to lump media practitioners and media managers in the same barrel. They are cut from entirely different cloth.

  8. I’ve been ripped off for decades now. You never learn to like it, but you learn to be sensible and measured in your responses, not because thieves should be treated politely, but because getting worked up is never fun or even fruitful.
    Of late, I’ve been keeping a record of recent IP infrigements on my website as posts called “You stole my photo” here:
    It’s kind of like those dishonoured checks that small businesses stick up next to their cash registers.

    • I have seen a photo or two from my website used without permission but non-commercially and the watermark was left intact. I tend not to bother too much with this as it promotes the website. Generally, photographers tend to give permission for web-grade photos to be used non-commercially once credit is given. It is where photos are used without permission commercially (like what RPA Production did with your photo of Destra) then legal action has to be taken. If it is any consolation, the reason your photos have been targeted by the media-bandits is that you have so many excellent photos that people assume they can’t afford them hence they steal. It could be a web-culture/local thing as well. I am not sure.

      P.s. I used a few flash albums recently but I am not sure how successful it is in deterring unauthorized use.

  9. I’ve found that it’s pointless planning a website to guard against thieves. People who want to steal will steal and the only way to keep bounty out of their hands is to keep it off the Internet altogether.

    But of what use are my photos locked away? I want to talk to the honest people who want to make use of them for a reasonable fee. I do watermark and embed copyright information in the IPTC fields of every image that I post (and I now have thousands up on my website) and I’m careful to add deeper watermarking on the images that are most likely to be huffed from my stock photography archive.

    But ultimately, I want people to view the work and make use of it in their projects, so it’s either barndoor open or barndoor closed.

    I choose open and in my spare moments, I review my weblogs to track down folks who may be referencing the work. On every occasion that I’ve found an unauthorised use, I’ve asked for a linkback where it hasn’t been available already. That slips a rope around the image that I can keep track of. I’ve also been doing that when I come across my work on FB as well via comments with my own linkbacks.

    But I don’t stay awake nights worrying about it. People who want to be thieves won’t be shamed when they are outed nor will they be concerned by my fulminations. The best that I can hope for is that honest people will think twice before consuming their works, built as they are on clearly identified ill-gotten gains.

    For what it’s worth, Newsday stole a photo of mine earlier this year, directly off the pages of the Guardian’s Womanwise and put it on the front page of their paper. The irony of it was that the subject was the late Mairoon Ali and there were already freely available publicity photos of her, also shot by me, that they could have requested from Gayelle and I would have had no objection.

    One of my favorite learnings in recent years is simply this: “Never assign to evil that which can be explained by stupidity.”

    • I read some months ago that the Internet has caused confusion in people’s minds about what is stealing but I doubt this applies to people in the newspaper business.

      I was reading up on the fair use principle and I don’t think the use of a photo that was displayed prominently in a commercial newspaper will be considered to be fair use. I could just imagine the powers that be at the Newsday reading this blog post and snickering in contempt at the post and comments.

      You are right and what use would a photo be if it is not shared. But having said that, I have many recent photos which I haven’t put up but it has nothing to do with fear of theft, just lack of time. I thought about enabling Hot Link Protection on my website but decided against it because I like to know where people are using my photos.

      Newsday can getaway with ignoring photographers because of the might of their lawyers and the lack of support for photographers from the public. Digital photography and the Internet has made teefing too easy.

      • On the topic of the messed up local media (and off the topic of photo stealing): What they do with Fazir? These newspapers, TV and radio stations just hate it when people speak the truth. Makes me SICK to the stomach.

  10. @liane Don’t make the mistake of confusing media managers with media practitioners. Practitioners answer to their readers and audience, managers are responsible to their shareholders. In the case of CNMG, that’s the government.

  11. And I always thought the shareholders of CNMG were the citizens – but I forgot that citizen’s sign over to governments, the power of attorney the day after a general election :mrgreen:

    I don’t actually think the local media is as messed up as it is evolving in a rapidly changing, technology-driven world. What hasn’t changed though is media owners’ fear of radically differing opinions to those who seem not to want to tow the management line.

  12. Mark, you’re right, of course. I have the utmost respect for the journalists et al and really should have made a distinction between them and the owners/managers of the various houses. The local houses have a long shoddy history of victimizing journalists who actually do their job. (The Guardian fiasco that led to the creation of The Independent, Kevin Baldeosingh more recently, and now Fazir, among others.)

    akalol, we the shareholders my foot! Once our votes are in their pockets we are beyond irrelevant. Or so they think. They just never learn. O_O

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