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I meant to write about this earlier. Of late, there have been a few bloggers who have had their photographs and images lifted off the internet without permission and published in a mainstream newspaper in India. Is this a stray case? While I would love to think so, the indications are that it is not.
What is alarming is the lack of education and knowledge among the editors and staff of this paper. They seem to imagine that they are entitled to use "free images" available on the internet. As far as I can understand from Sudipta's article on the issue, these newspaper have had a history of doing this while individual content producers are blissfully unaware that their copyrighted material is being filched for commercial purposes.
What should we do about it? First of all, I think that if we allow these relatively small copyright violations to go by without any action, newspapers will consider our intellectual property to be fair game for their benefit. Secondly, being aware of this issue and spreading the word will certainly help more bloggers keep a look-out for any such blatant violations of copyright in future. After all, an individual blogger might not have the power to take on a powerful media giant, but together, we can definitely ensure that such incidents don't go unnoticed in future.
It's in our self-interest to spread the word. The print media certainly ought to behave better in such cases, considering all the holier-than-thou stuff that their editors spout off from time to time. Even if they think internet images are "free" for their use, they ought to contact the image copyright holders for permission to publish in print. If they are so cheap that they are unable to pay photographers or photo journalists to produce original content for them it's their problem, but at the very least they should have respect for other people's hard work. Today it's photographs. Tomorrow they might lift off entire "free" articles from the internet for their use.
But in the meantime there are a few things bloggers can do to help:
Posted on Fri, Oct 3, 2008 at 08:45 IST (last updated: Fri, Oct 3, 2008 @ 09:12 IST)
Finally please use your blog to spread awareness of this issue whoever you might be. Maybe the higher-level authorities in these newspapers might sit up and take notice if enough of us write about it.
- Always attribute third party images you might use on your own blogs and set an example first. If possible, write to the original copyright holder and ask for permission courteously. If by chance the original image copyright holder still asks you to remove their image, even if attributed, apologize and comply with their request.
- Never upload your own hi-resolution photographs to the internet directly. Always scale it down to a size where it will look horrible in print. Also keep the DPI resolution low (like 72 dpi or lower). Experiment with watermarking images so that the watermarks will be visible in print.
- Respect others' copyrights in the same way and don't quote other people's written material without permission and/or attribution.