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Friday, October 03, 2008

Times of India responds and ran a clarification

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:

1 Mail to editor through their website-
Result- Postmaster reply that mail to editor@indiatimes.co.in has permanently failed. (note: this postmaster’s mail was marked as spam by Google-may be their online feedback mechanism is just a joke and Gmail might have been fed up with so many failure messages.

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 timeschennai@timesgroup.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:
TOI Clarification:
Times of India Chennai Edition dated 8th October has carried following clarification in Page 6.
They didn't pay me, didn't mention my blog URL and mistook me for a lady. Nevertheless I thank their resident Editor Mr. Nair for promptly responding to my concern, accepting that there's been an error by TOI and willingly run a clarification as a damage control. Not sure if I want to drag this further. I'm currently vacationing at Club Mahindra resort in Binsar. Will write more about this next week once I return.

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

Thanks to all of you for your support. Sandesh and Sudipta have published their post in response to call for Blogathon on plagiarism by media. Thanks to them. If anyone else have written about it let me know, I’ll be happy to link.

Update: Harishankar and Gradwolf publish awareness posts on the same topic. Thanks guys.

16 comments :

hari said...

I've also written on it.

Glad to be of help as I feel very strongly on the subject.

hari said...

Also make sure you send a legal notice to TOI by registered post.

I think it's vital that this issue is handled in a strictly legal manner from now on.

Also write to other competitor newspapers about this issue and see what the response is.

Sandesh said...

Pardon me if i'm negative but i dont see TOI considering this issue seriously.

You are testing your patience??

hari said...

Sandesh, that's why I think sending a legal notice is a good thing - it might wake them up from their slumber.

Also we must take it up seriously from our end, however casually TOI might react.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Hari and Sandesh.

No, they don't seem to take it seriously- my case or any of the other similar incidents. May be they think we individuals can't do anything other than sending couple of mails or calls which they can ignore and get away with it.

Harish said...

Thanks for trying your best. This is an issue of great significance that goes beyond one photograph. That even after pointing out their plagarism to them, one of the reputed printing houses in the country did not offer an apology is appaling and sadly reflects on the standards of journalism in the mainstream in India. I am sure this is not going to be the last such episode. I remember a similar episode from a reputed telugu newspaper few months ago. Should we have a online group/association/forum for bloggers from India who can join hands and discuss strategies on such issues? I think that will add some weight and official status to such matters. Given the way things happen in India,its not going to be long before the govt starts acting on some blogger for writing 'inflammatory posts against our culture' and it would help if we had a single voice on issues like freedom of speech and plagarism. I am happy to contribute in any way if people think it is a useful exercise.

Mridula said...

Shrinidhi, it seems quite hopeless when it comes to TOI, but do keep trying, maybe something will come out of this.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@ Harish,
Thanks for offering your support. Much appreciated...

@ Mridula
Yes. I will

Logesh TamilSelvan said...

HI Shri,
Its better you watermark your future pictures.. so that no one can do this in future..
Its really pathetic that a media giant like TOI is doing such things..

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@ Logesh

yes..
Thanks for visiting after a long time... ALso I visited your blog thinking you've updated it.. :(

freebird said...

hey ! any update on this ?

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@ Freebird:

Current update is that I have got a reply from TOI resident editor who has offered to run a correction statement giving me due credit for the photograph.

Waiting to see that in action.

Sergio said...

Saw an update in TOI 8th Oct Chennai Edition. It says..."published without any credit to HER"!!!!

Sandesh said...

Seems like you need to show your gender confusion post to TOI!

J!!!

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@ Sergio and Sandesh

Thanks for bringing it to my notice and the support.

I am currently vacationing at Binsar, Uttaranchal- will look into this once I return. Saw it online though

Meeta said...

Do not fall for that clarification stuff. One of my pictures was stolen by TOI and after a LOT of run around I got in touch with the editor - they too printed a corrigendum with almost the exact wording (in my case I really am a "her"). But I have had to pay charges for the damage this issue has caused me by changing the license it was run under etc. So I have sent them an invoice with my charges. They are now stalling!

I suggest you charge them with an invoice for your picture too. Send them a legal notice. Do not take this lightly - they think by printing a worthless clarification they will come off easy!