Update at the end of this entry
It is rare for me to rant in my blog unless of course, there is a positive resolution in the end. I also believe that when I have problems with services or products, I give the business owners or officers a way out. Ranting without doing anything about it is just not my cup of tea. In most cases, my bitch powers work and I often get satisfactory results. Being married to a lawyer, I often hear my husband say that one should try amicable settlement before filing a suit. Our courts are swamped with thousands and upon thousands of court cases that have yet to be resolved years later.
I also don’t believe in pulling strings to get my message across. I feel that one should start with the persons involved before bringing it to the highest officer or persons involved in my complaint.
As a blogger, I often encounter copyright infringement. We, of course, know that most of the blogs are hosted in servers based in the US where Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) is strictly enforced. A Friendster Blogger even stole my personal entries to make it come off as hers. Two bloggers copied off my recipes complete with photos hotlinked to my server. In cases, like these, one should get hold of the host and report the violation in a specified format. In 24 hours (except for blogger.com because they want the complaint mailed), the entry is removed. Oh yeah, Friendster makes it hard to report copyright violations.
I also choose my battles.
In the 2007 Search Engine Marketing Conference, I was amused to see a photo of my husband being used by one of their speakers. Good thing that my husband’s face was not seen or else I would have raised a fuss. I just let it be. Almost fair use except I did not get credit for the photo. Still, I refused to burst an artery because it was used for teaching purposes. In my blog, I provide photo credit where the photo is essential to the entry. If the copyright owner tells me to remove their photo in my blog, I comply. I am not a difficult person to deal with.
I also expected that ABS CBN somehow learned about copyright infringement after Eric of byahilo.com complained about the use of his photos (without credit) in Boy n Kris last April 2008. The case has since been amicably settled. I also believe that traditional media outfits heard of Anton Sheker who filed a landmark case against one of the Philippines media giants and oldest newspaper, Manila Bulletin for allegedly infringing on his copyright by downloading photos from his personal blog and using it allegedly for a travel feature without his permission.
I believe most media outfits are aware of getting permission from the copyright owner before photos can be used.
At least I know GMA-7 contacted a blogger to use one of her photos for a news portion and even The Filipino Channel (owned by ABS CBN) asked permission to use my food photos for a TV feature. I truly believed most media giants are aware.
Not until….I heard my daughter screaming her head off in her room and running up to me “Mom, my friend texted me that my photo was flashed on TV Patrol”. I just shrugged it off, “Maybe you went to an event while I was in the US”
M insisted “Mom, it is a photo of me wearing that My Pilipinas shirt you gave me. More text messages beeped from classmates saying they all saw her in TV Patrol. If you have been reading this blog for ages, my daughter is very picky when it comes to her photos appearing in my blog. Of all times that she allowed a photo to be used by me, it had to be used by a nationwide TV news network! Geesh, hello TV Patrol, not everyone are publicity starved and eager to appear on TV.
I plurked about it immediately and indeed some bloggers saw the photo of M beaming a smile as she proudly showed off My Filipinas shirt with a map just below the shirt. The said photo was used in the segment of TV Patrol’s Philippine Flag used in Fashion and reported by TJ Manotoc on November 4, 2008. The shirt was an example of non-violation since the image is that of a Philippine map and NOT the Philippine flag. Talk of irresponsible use of the Philippine flag! Walk the talk. Talk of irresponsible use of my photo!
I got to see the segment in an uploaded video much later that night. It is the third photo where my daughter wears a pink striped shirt and behind her are my books in the office. I also called the TV Patrol phone line and got hold of Joey Gaburnida, TV Patrol Executive Producer who gave me the email address to write my complaint.
That night I talked to my husband about the unauthorized use of my photo and if it was fair use. My husband thinks that ABS CBN TV Patrol committed two violations:
1. Using my photos without permission or credit (at the least) and
2. Using a photo without the permission of my daughter.
With that information, I emailed [email protected] and [email protected] to provide me an explanation why they used my photo and secondly, provide me corrective measures that it won’t happen again to bloggers and photographers.
You know I have friends in ABS-CBN and I know they have done their share to help me out even if I didn’t ask their help. Thank you guys. But I know they can do only so much. In fact, my husband knows the lawyers in ABS CBN but should an ordinary person have to pull strings so action can be undertaken? I told him not to do anything. I want to course my complaint through the standard protocol.
Three weeks later, no action. Not even a reply to my email.
I hate to make conclusions where I don’t know the real score. Yet I can’t help thinking that it is dismissed without merit because hey, we gave publicity to My Pilipinas shirt anyway and as a new media publisher, isn’t that your job?. ABS CBN, being a news reporting outfit can claim Fair Use but I am opposing FAIR USE on these grounds:
1. Denying credit to me, the owner of the photo.
2. Large portion or whole photo was used which clearly showed my daughter’s face and be easily recognizable.
ABS CBN TV Patrol is forgetting that the photo is not owned by Collezione. Neither is my daughter a model for Collezione.
So will I file a suit against a violation on the Philippine copyright law as enshrined in the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines, officially known as Republic Act No. 8293? Will I create more noise?
My resolution: I will let my husband-lawyer decide on this matter tonight.
What would you do if this happened to you?
Update from TJ Manotoc
TJ Manotoc, the reporter of the segment called me an hour later after this was posted (oh do I have to blog to get a reply?) but I was unable to pick the call. I just talked to him a while ago. He explained how he got the photos. He interviewed Rhett Eala for the Philippine Flag segment and was told that he could use any of the publicity photos. His team googled for the images and my daughter’s photo came about. Since they were in a rush, they didn’t bother to get the source of the photo. Ooops, not a good idea I said.
It took him a long time to reply because the News Team kept sending it to the wrong email address. (My, they should have better communication protocol in cases like these). TJ didn’t read this entry when he first called me. I found out that a concerned blogger-friend working in ABS CBN saw my plurk that I blogged about this entry. The blogger informed the handler of TJ Manotoc who in turn found informed TJ.
In the end, I gave him a piece of advice to just give credit in case they are in a rush to use the images in time to meet the deadline. TJ Manotoc apologized profusely and wants to convey the same apologies to M too.
Let’s see what my daughter has to say.
In fairness to TJ Manotoc, he owned up to his mistake of being in a rush to report his segment. In the rush, he forgot to give credits which he normally does. He explained the facts as it was. For my second question regarding corrective measures, he plans to inform his friends within the ABS CBN news team about fair use of copyrighted materials.
He wanted to talk personally to M but my daughter said “no need to. Apologies accepted”
I accept his apologies but it doesn’t end there. Actions speak louder than words.
I will continue to be vigilant.
Third update November 29
My husband is satisfied with TJ Manotoc’s explanation and future plans and will not pursue any legal course of action. Same with my daughter, M. I am sure TJ Manotoc will not repeat the same mistake but I am not sure other news network or reporters will do the same.
My entry does not end with TJ Manotoc or ABS CBN.