This post was supposed to be published yesterday, but due to reasons beyond my control, I couldn’t. This post is an update on Times of India lifting one of my photographs from internet and publishing in their newspaper last week. More details in this post, if you haven't read it yet.
So far there’s not been any noteworthy progress in this. Here’s what I’ve tried:
2 One lady, identifying herself as Assistant Manager in Times Group, had approached me earlier asking if I can contribute articles to a new “professional networking site” that Times of India is about to launch. I thought she might be able to help me in this plagiarism issue and mailed her explaining the situation and requesting her to forward it to concerned person in their Chennai office or give me name and contact details of appropriate person in Chennai office who can help me out.
Result- Absolutely no reply till date.
3 Mail to email@example.com explaining the situation and asking for a response
Result: Absolutely no reply till date
4 An acquaintance gave me name of a person in TOI Chennai office but no number. I called their board number in Chennai (044-24342121) and asked the operator to connect to this person. Day 1, after 3 calls which went unanswered (operator would connect to an extension that would ring sine die and finally call would return to operator) I was told he is on leave that day. Next day 2 attempts, still couldn’t get that person on line.
5 I called the TOI office and asked them to connect to concerned reporter who had published that story- I was lucky to get connected- After hearing to my concern she said she had not submitted that image along with the story and said she has no idea who added it and from where. She offered me to connect to “City bureau Chief”. I could hear his voice and before I could talk further, a kind of disturbance creeps in into the communication, voice starts breaking, faints and call ends with dwindling “hello hello”. May be it was a genuine technical failure, or most probably a tactically induced technique to avoid 'unwanted' callers. I called the console again and asked them to connect to city bureau chief- this time no answer.
At this point I realized that I am only wasting my time and money on telephone calls and decided not to call anyone anymore.
Also I realized that mine is not a remote incident to call it an accident. Times of India has an heritage of lifting contents from elsewhere and publishing without credit or compensation. So they must be habituated to bloggers/photographers complaining about it and by now might have mastered the art of dealing with/avoiding them. Since they do not appear to have any intention of correcting themselves, I felt no use trying to contact them.
Right now this is what I plan to do-
1. Launch an online petition, get as many bloggers to sign it as possible and submit it to Bennett Coleman Co (propitiators of TOI) with copies to concerned government bodies and regulatory agencies. Currently I’m preparing the text for this petition and gathering examples of other incidents where TOI has indulged in shameless plagiarism.
2. Starting now, any photo I may have to upload to my blog, which I see a potential of TOI stealing, I’ll be adding a watermark “Times Of India, Please do not copy this image” as a symbol of protest. This will at least keep the fact alive in the minds of readers.
3 Will waste another Rs 5 on postage and send a formal letter to Times of India keeping it in writing (maybe I’ll go for a registered post). Not expecting a reply, but I’ll have a proof that I’ve brought the issue to their attention.
4 In the meanwhile continue to explore if I can reach any appropriate executives in TOI for possible corrective action.
5. Also, take extra precaution never to upload a high resolution image. Compress it to a much smaller size and upload. A low resolution image will not compromise blog viewer's experience much-but will discourage a publication house from printing it in big sizes (say for magazine cover etc) as any attempt to enlarge it will result in distortion to image quality.
9th October Major update:
Times of India Chennai Edition dated 8th October has carried following clarification in Page 6.
10th October 2008: Meanwhile, Mint Journal ran an article in today's issue (10th Oct 2008- Link here) about this issue and quoting my experience. I hereby inform all my readers that I suspect this article has gone to print before I could alert the said journalist about the fact that TOI has run a clarification. This is to ascertain that TOI has promptly responded to my concern and promptly published a clarification giving me due credit. Read more about this in this post