It happened in India again. Hindustan Times Sunday supplement, Brunch, carefully lifted one of Mridula Dwivedi’s photos, brilliantly cropped off "(c) Mridula D" from the image and published in last week’s Brunch edition. HT and brunch editors were probably convinced that that’s the way they conduct their business and lone individuals who become victims of their plagiarism activities will give up after sometime, if at all they notice their photo/content being lifted.
It feels good to see your name/article/photo in print. But certainly not when something is published without your knowledge, without any credit. Mridula was naturally shocked to see her coffee cup photo on page 12 of Bruch’s Dec 6 2009 edition. Mridula is a popular blogger and a very good photographer-she’s already experienced similar incidents of her photographs being lifted by Air Deccan’s in-flight magazine once.
Mridula is currently battling it out with Hindustan Times to get her due credit and apologies from the newspaper. As expected initial responses were very dismissive, no one owning up the responsibility or caring to address her concerns. As if copying her photograph is not enough, what is more disturbing was newspaper’s editing the photograph to get rid of copyright symbol, which is highly condemnable activity.
In her updates Mridula said she’s realized the power of twitter after this. She’s been using twitter very aggressively to chase this matter, drawing support, tips and causing awareness on plagiarism. She’s been marking @WSJ (Wall street Journal, HT’ is WSJ's India Partner), Vir Sanghvi (@virsanghvi, Hindustan Times Editorial Director) on her tweets to drive home her point, #brunchphotodispute
With timely intervention of Sidin Vidukut (Popular Delhi based blogger and Mint Columnist) and others, I understand that current status of this matter is that Editor of Brunch has offered to meet her. We need to wait and watch how this reaches to a conclusion and see if Hindustan Times (and other newspapers too) care to learn a lesson from it. You can stay tuned to Mridula’s blog or follow Mridula on twitter to know more on this
I am wondering if other photos in the article are lifted from internet too (and of course any copyright lines nicely cropped off). This also made me recall my face to face with Times of India last year, over the police car photo issue. I was not that aggressive and settled for a clarification. Arun Bhat had similar issue with NDTV website (details). Mint did a detailed article on this issue subsequently, but mainstream media continues its disrespect for IPR and more shamefully, they try to cover up/ignore the complaints, instead of opting for an unconditional apology and compensation. Most of them do not have a policy on plagiarism or a process to deal with it. Content lifting is routine and once in a while when detected, attempts are made to suppress it or ignore it.
Update: I'm given to understand that this matter is resolved to the satisfaction of content owner