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ABS CBN TV Patrol in Copyright Violation

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 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 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.

Second update

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.


43 thoughts on “ABS CBN TV Patrol in Copyright Violation”

  1. I encountered the same situation as you. I caught an ABS-CBN (or was it Studio 23–I can’t remember) morning medical show at breakfast one day. They had a feature on an all-boys’ school in San Juan, something about an exercise program being implemented to keep their students fit. Lo and behold, I saw class pics of current high school students of that school being floated across the TV screen. Those pics came from my blog. None of the show’s producers ever requested for permission from me to use those photos, which I took with my camera.

    Kenneth Yus last blog post..The Malaya

  2. Speaking of violation of rights, it kinda happened to me before (not thru the net though) when one of my studies for a window display design was used by the company (that required me to submit design samples). I submitted 3 studies, I waited for their email and after 2 wks, when I passed by their store in Megamall, I saw my window display design! All done and executed the way I designed it! It was so frustrating. To think they’re one big shoe company! I felt so violated at that time. 🙁
    Anyway, I really think you should let them (ABS-CBN) know that there are things they can’t get away from. If they’re doing something about this, they should have emailed you regarding the status man lang nung complaint. Anyway, life is still good. Cheers! 😀

    1. how terrible beth. The least they could have done was give credit to you. Next time, place a copyright notice to your design.

      No status on the complaint or acknowledgement that they received it. Grabe I am so mad at them. You can imagine how angry my daughter is

  3. They are what you call “Corporate Ingrates” acting Oh so powerful because they have been supported and backed up by their televiewers and those of power. If this escalate into an even higher scale then this will all fires back at them, so should a nationwide blogger’s campaign be done with this? We will help you out if that’s what it takes to teach them to steal and grab images without permission.

    Chris A of Life on a Pencils last blog post..In A "Sticky" Situation

  4. This is bad, and should be stopped. You’re lucky enough to have lawyers but how about the others without one. But then, I think you made the right thing to post it on your blog and spread the word. After all, this is also media’s activity – sensationalize issues.

    Try to run to GMA and they will easily broadcast it lol! Seriously speaking, I think you should not take this lightly. If you have to, submit it to all possible social media sites.

    Twitter can help a lot like parents did to Motrin, which eventually lead to the closure of their site.

    I hope I am not being a devil’s advocate but I still believe in the Bible verse – “A tooth for a tooth, an eye for an eye”.

    But of course, be gentle and reasonable when you do it.

    Angel Cualas last blog post..Why we should vote Suzanne Franco for the next Blogging Idol

    1. I am exposing this because I tried the normal procedure first of notifying the TV Patrol executive who told me to email them. But no word. so it really irritates me. They have not learned their lesson from the last blogger who filed a copyright infringement complaint.

      I am a reasonable person. I didn’t ask for compensation or credit anymore. I just wanted an explanation and future course of action

      1. I will ask the opinion of my husband later and take into consideration the feelings of my daughter.

        Still, without this entry would TJ Manotoc have called me. I wish it didn’t have to take a blog entry to get noticed. I wish even if they are in a rush to just do the right thing—give credit then it is FAIR use.

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  6. some of you may think to just let it go…but have they learned? As you can see, I am not the first blogger whose photos appeared on TV without credit. If we have that attitude of “hey let it go”, then it’s no wonder media outfits like Manila Bulletin get away with it. Photos fall under the 17 classes for copyrighted material, trademarks and other forms of intellectual property

    anyway, TJ Manotoc just called up to explain. Will edit my above entry now.

  7. I must agree that it’s not a good idea to just let it go. If we get to them the message that it’s okay to steal/copy-paste blog content, and that nobody will notice/mind, then it will keep on happening.

    Noemi, you are one of the more famous bloggers, yet you felt helpless against this one big giant. Eh paano na ang mga mumunting bloggers na kagaya ko, na entitled din naman sa intellectual property rights? So this battle was won not only for yourself, but for the rest of us.

    That excuse on time constraints is flimsy. But at least the reporter bothered this time to call you.

    imoms last blog post..In the (Lunch) Box – Part 3

    1. I didn’t want to feel important and have special handling just because I have more visibility than other bloggers, that’s why I didn’t use Butch or my friends within ABS CBN. And you’re right, I blogged so other bloggers know what to do when they see their work that is not covered by FAIR USE.

      I told TJ that the time constraint is not a reason and TJ admitted it sure was not an excuse. He learned a lesson from this daw.

  8. Until there’s going to be a coalition of photographers big enough to make them feel threatened, it’s always going to be big fish vs. small fish.

    Best to not patronize their company or their affiliates.

  9. I don’t buy it.

    First of all, I’ve seen a segment being produced and I’ve seen what they go through to do it. The act of googling for images is a itself a time consuming thing, and it takes mere seconds to copy paste an attribution. SECONDS.

    It seems to me that having TJ call to apologize is a cheap and effective way to shut you up and walk away from responsibility.

    The fact that they “don’t bother” to ask for permission shows the extent of respect they have for copyright holders. At the very least they could have made a simple note to email you AFTER the segment was produced. How hard is that? Being in a rush and late is never an excuse, since it’s not your fault but theirs that they’re in that state. TJ’s lesson learned is not the same as ABS learning its lesson.

    IF the networks and broadsheets truly cared, a simple company wide memo stating a strictly enforced policy to always contact and/or attribute copyright owners and to make themselves easily accessible to them will go a long way in setting an example and prevent any future issues. In fact, in lieu of an apology, that’s what I would ask for. Talk is cheap. Show me some real journalistic integrity.

    1. Thanks for your inputs!

      I don’t really know how a segment is produced.

      I will make a followup on this if there is indeed a policy in place in ABS CBN. Talk is cheap indeed that’s why I am not closing my entry as RESOLVED.

      I need to see action. Some measures in place.

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  11. Hi there, thanks for the peep 🙂

    This is a very informative post as many bloggers will be cautious and learn their rights for their writings and images. There are many issues like these but they just dropped their complaints for fear that it would only end up in deaf ears. Now at least they would know the proper procedure if ever they encounter the same issue in the future.

    1. TJ told me that the email was sent to the abs-cbn email address which he barely opens hence the delay. I still think that the newsfeedback team should print out a hard copy with recipient bearing signature that they received it.

      He said I followed the proper procedure naman….just that he didn’t receive it.

      The reason I blogged this is because a lot of bloggers knew (because of plurk) about the incident which I had not blogged yet. And they wanted to know the progress of my complaint. Since I think I was patient for 3 weeks, I decided to report to everyone what happened.

  12. Saying they were rushed and forgot to credit is such a cop out. This is why Filipino celebs shouldn’t be “reporters”. Well some of them anyway. They don’t know shit of the rules when reporting something. One of them is giving credit where credit is due.

    If I did that to a picture from CNN without giving them credit, my ass would be sued left and right.

    ABS-CBN needs to call their biggest talent, namely Claudine Barretto. I remember a case where she sued a YES magazine editor because she printed pictures of Claudine’s daughter’s baptism without asking Claudine’s permission. It took a while before Claudine and said reporter settled the issue. Claudine stuck to her guns which I very much admired her for.

    Saying Noemi and Marielle got some publicity from it so Noemi should just let it go is totally missing the point. Noemi owns the pictures to publish, not ABS-CBN.

    If GMA and other networks used anything of ABS-CBN without giving them credit, you bet your ass Kapamilya will have their lawyers knocking on everyone’s door serving lawsuits.

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  14. Noemi, he could say an apology on TV without showing M’s face. Just simple words of “the picture we used for so and so on the segment that aired on bla blah date came from http://aboutmyrecovery“, we apologized for not stating our source”. And done. I’m surprised TJ “offered”. He should just do it since he’s so sorry anyway.

    Personal feelings aside, it’s just something professionals do in his field of “career”.

    Dexies last blog post..Wordless Wednesday : Admiring Her Ornament

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  16. Am wondering how this story slipped me…

    Thanks for the link! am happy that TJ did the right thing.

    Using legal means takes a lot of time.. we are just about to go for pre trial on January 30… more and more people are getting aware of copyright.. only problem there is no venue for photographers/bloggers/artists to show and share their cases online for others to see and learn from.

    Hopefully my case will get more attention.. other newspapers seem to be hands off on the whole issue because they all seem to violate copyright in different degrees.

    A violation is a violation however you look at it.

    Anton Shekers last blog post..iPhone + Lomography = Digital Toy Camera

    1. as an amateur photographer, I would agree to fair use, which is “give me credit”. In your case, I understand Manila Bulletin didn’t even give you the time and day to explain their side.

      I do hope your case will prosper. I will cover this when pre-trial comes.

  17. Why be so willing to let them use it for free? Until people charge, they won’t be expecting to pay. I’m sure there’s many Filipino amateur photographers who could use the extra money.

    I’m usually happy to let people use my photos non-commercially for free, but I charge anyone else in most cases. They are a business, they are making money. Even if they gave you credit, fair use (in the US here) is pretty narrow.

    I’m not sure how your laws compare there to the US, but a great site based on US law is here

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