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A major newspaper steals a blogger’s photograph!!

May 30, 2008

One hears of bloggers infringing copyright but have you ever heard of a major “reputed” publication stealing a blogger’s work? Well, here is an instance. I got a shock to see that a reputed newspaper like the Hindustan Times had stolen a photograph of mine. I say stole because I have not been given any credit for the same. This newspaper is a commercial entity and therefore has no right to publish anyone’s work without payment and acknowledgment. If this photograph had been used with acknowledgment and for non-commercial use I would have said nothing. But this paper with so many photographers at its beck and call has the temerity to steal a photograph of a blogger who makes no money from her work!

Here it is as it appeared on the middle page of the newspaper below Rajdeep Sardesai’s column. The headline of the article caught my eye as I am interested in the subject and in fact have written on tuitions. I wanted to check if the writer has stolen my work…I have come across some such instances…and well, I discovered that the article is original, but the photo is mine! I took it out near my house and have used it on this blog. The only reason I saw this picture is because I subscribe to Hindustan Times. Did they think that because I am a Mumbai blogger I wouldn’t find out? Here is the article in which the photograph taken by me appeared – in today’s Mumbai edition:

copyright violation

copyright violation2

copyright infringement3

I have used this photo in this article of mine titled Impact of coaching classes on a nation’s psyche. And I can easily prove that the picture is mine because I had cropped the picture. I have the original picture with me which is much larger…and well the larger picture also means a high resolution one. There is no way they can try to cheat me!! Well, I am writing to them too…but my past experience with newspapers is not leaving me hopeful. There is a newspaper I used to write for which stole my ideas but when I protested (I even met the editor) she gave me sweet talk but no compensation. I let it go as I had been writing for the newspaper (as a freelancer) for 2 years. So I know that big newspapers do this kind of thing, but it’s difficult to prove it.

Added Later: After Amit’s comment I realised that the best way to publicize this is other bloggers write about this. I would really appreciate if they did. Thanks.

Update, 8th September 08: The stealing from bloggers goes on unabated. Here are 3 recent examples.
1. Hindustan Times, for a  Ganpati festival story, stole a beautiful photograph from Archana and you can read about it here. She might be suing the Hindustan Times.
2. Just a little earlier, Times of India stole a picture from Twilight Fairy and you can read about it here.
3. And there is Meeta who had a picture plus article stolen by the Times of India. You can read about it here.
4. Srinidhi Hande had a photograph stolen by the Times of India which you can read about here.

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154 Comments leave one →
  1. June 14, 2008 3:41 pm

    Check this blog

    It’s about rip-offs.

    Anshul, thanks for the tip. I have already forwarded this site to several people! – Nita.

  2. RanTen permalink
    June 17, 2008 1:07 pm

    Nita….if you are posting pix to the net…make sure they are low-rez and their JPG quality setting is at 50% or less.

  3. August 17, 2008 10:36 pm

    The same has happened to me on 18th July – a pic of mine was stolen by TOI’s supplement and published without credit or my permission.

    Could you share your contact details and we can discuss this at length? I plan to take legal action.

    Twilight Fairy, my email id is on the blog, in the form of an image. Do write. I personally have not taken any legal action but I have shamed the Hindustan Times and I think that is in a way useful. – Nita.

  4. August 22, 2008 8:51 am

    Have you checked up legal terms and conditions of blog. Should draft one now.

  5. subbu permalink
    September 5, 2008 11:36 am

    Hi Nita,

    Have you by any chance paid and credited the kid in the photograph?

    You have a point. However let me assure you that he saw me take the photograph and he even waved to me. But I agree this does not happen every time I take a picture. Therefore I try to hide their faces. On many of my posts, that is what I do. In fact in the recent one, you will see I have done it.That is because I know it’s not right for me to show people’s faces…but I know my mistake. If the kid had objected (this happened recently when I was taking a person of a kid cooking on the pavement) and I decided to photoshop the picture. However, does my mistake in any way excuse the Big Brother HT? I am not making a penny from my venture on this blog, while HT is making money. But again I agree even then I have no right to take a picture of anyone without their knowledge. I have no problem in admitting it. However, the basic difference here is that most of the people whose photograph is taken do not object to their picture being taken. – nita.

  6. September 5, 2008 2:44 pm

    Hey Nita, if we talk of law here you are allowed to take anyones photograph till he or she is in/at a public place, this includes celebrities, kids, girls etc. even if they are the subject of the photo and at the same time you can publish that photograph if it becomes the part of journal or a news article.

    Again we are talking of law here and some critics might bring in morality, courtesy etc. in the discussion.

    I am not sure how clear are laws of photography in India. But in absence of anything you can even publish a photograph if it doesn’t become a part of a news entry etc. till its not promoting pornography or something obscene and doesn’t hurt the ‘so called’ national, secular sentiments etc.

    Thanks Anshul. This helps. I guess I knew this at some level, because all the time we see such pictures in newspapers and magazines, of the public, and I do know that the newspapers or anybody else doesn’t pay them. I worked in a newspaper and magazine myself and such pictures were regularly taken. I was even part of making a film and street pictures were taken. People on the street are not paid for it, unless they are specifically asked to model. And this even though the films/photos are used for a commercial purpose. If newspapers, companies and ad agencies don’t pay them, to expect a blogger who uses the pics on a free blog to pay them is a bit much I think. Thanks for your support. – nita.

  7. September 5, 2008 7:19 pm

    Quoting Subbu:
    “Have you by any chance paid and credited the kid in the photograph?”

    Ask for permission to take a photograph? Seriously?

  8. September 8, 2008 8:10 am

    Writing this comment to let everyone know that two more such incidences have come to light. Times of India has stolen Twilight Fairy’s photograph and the link is here. Also Hindustan Times stole another photograph for a story on their Ganesh Festival, this time from Arch’s blog which you can read about here.

  9. September 8, 2008 8:14 am

    Thanks for visiting my blog and for the information about another disgraceful act by HT.

    I am in the process of sending legal notices to 3 papers…HT, Sakal and Bangalore Mirror for the theft.

    I am going to do all that it takes from my side.
    Also would request you to join hands with organizations fighting against such copyright violations…( will keep you updated on the same)

    Take Care

  10. September 8, 2008 8:32 am

    Thanks Archana. If you need any help from me, let me know. If we do this jointly it will help. I guess I was too tardy to bother about sending a legal notice. I didn’t know that Bangalore Mirror also stole the picture but I know that all the Mirrors from all cities steal pictures. Their journalists are probably doing it to save time and it’s a shame.
    I have no respect for any major daily in India today because they are all cut costs by stealing. I wonder how many articles they have lifted. I do know that the Times stole an article on cooking from Jyotsna’s blog. Either these people steal photos or they steal ideas or actual written words.

  11. chirax permalink
    September 8, 2008 9:45 am

    Nita, this is really shameful. I will do my part in spreading the news. Currently there is a Cyber Law document(Bill) in circulation which is open for “Public Debate” and scrutiny, we should all put our thoughts in that. Also according to a new law/bill: “Any thing written in email /article… can be treated in the court “. Please sue them.

  12. September 12, 2008 3:23 pm

    I am in utter shock! The Times of India stole my picture too – the story here. After I posted that story, like a domino effect I have heard of so many bizarre stories. I agree publicizing these things is the only way to get attention! I too think joining forces and getting one lawyer is the best way to get them! Any ideas?

  13. October 11, 2008 12:25 pm

    Hi, I was reading through the paper yesterday and came across this article:

    Reminded me of this article. Just thought you might want to know.

    Thanks Aditya. this is a big help. I will try and contact the person who is organising a blog against plagiarism. – Nita.

  14. October 11, 2008 3:24 pm

    Nita, i linked it here.

  15. October 12, 2008 8:42 am

    Hi Nita,
    Sharing a Blog Cartoon I made related to this menace with you.


  16. rajiv permalink
    October 12, 2008 4:45 pm
    Now they are calling others thieves :o)

  17. October 26, 2008 3:40 pm

    Take a look here, everybody is getting upset about IPR now . . .

  18. Ankur Thatai permalink
    January 7, 2009 10:26 pm

    Nita, So what is the latest update???
    Do you get any compensation and Credit???
    It happened with my, Dainik Jagran stole my picture too from flickr…
    Please write me:

    Ankur, I got no response from them but then I did not follow up as much as I should have as at the time I was terribly busy and then time just passed and now I don’t feel like. However this happened to me again, with another paper, and I followed up and got compensation. They were very promt. I think you need to talk on the telephone with them as they do not like to admit anything in writing. – Nita.

    • Anita Anand permalink
      January 12, 2011 12:02 am

      Hey Nita,

      Some story repeated again yesterday with the same newspaper !!!! HT does it again ..this time with my photograph !!!! Cant believe that these sleazeballs just havnt learned any lesson !! The journalist Sneha Mahale calls me up (atlast) and says that my image was in their photo database which she assures me is now, promptly deleted. Also said that i should write an email to the editor in chief Mr Mayank Shekhar about what my expectations are beside an apology !!!! Made it sound like they were doing me a freakin favour !!!

      Since you have already gone through the rigmarole, I desperately need your help Nita. Besides an apology and overdue credits, I want to demand for a monetary compensation as well !!! Would you know what kind of amount are we talking here ?

      • January 12, 2011 12:09 pm

        Anita, do ask for monetary compensation. In my case the editor refused to reply to my emails!! But hopefully they might reply to yours. They are shameless sleazeballs. And this even when I knew someone in a senior position in HT, although he was not directly involved. No one ever replied to my emails and I did not follow up. If you live in Delhi, you should visit the office. Amazing how much profit these people make but still steal!! What you should ask for depends on the quality of your photo. I think Rs 500/- should be a decent amount. In one case I got Rs 1500/- from a regional newspaper as I insisted they pay me extra for stealing. They agreed. At least they responded. And as for that nonsense about the photo being in the database, I assure you that its lies. They regularly scour the net to steal, and the Times of India is not far behind. Its usually due to lazy staffers and the management turns a blind eye because they gain monetarily.

  19. February 6, 2009 11:53 am

    HT and TOI are very unethical newspapers. I came close to complaining against them in the Press Council of India (but alas, a miss is as good as a mile!).

    HT organized a heavily advertised ‘I love Delhi contest’ in Jan 2007 (writing competition, painting, dance etc.) and prizes were from 40, 000 Rupees to 1 Lakh Rupees! Even semifinalists to finalists were declared but the final result was never declared! They never informed about it! They never gave away any prizes!

    I wrote to them online, to the editor’s email, to Vir Sanghvi on his over hyped new website but in vain! I still have that I love Delhi poem on my blog.

    So shameful! The I love Delhi HT website is still online! One has to complain within 2 to 4 months to the Press Council of India! I missed it!

    You won’t believe I have seen two TOIs for the same date! They published a catchy photo of a plane crashing in a building (a chilling reminder of 9/11) on the last page! Then sometime in midnight, they would have realized that it will grab more eyeballs and they put it on the front page! So one fine day (can’t recall the date) I have actually seen two TOIs with the same photo on two different pages in the two copies of the paper!

    I have noticed many other instances of journalistic unethicalism but will share later.

  20. vasudev permalink
    February 9, 2009 12:00 am

    maybe some ‘wise’ freelancer blogger fan of yours stole that with the intention of apologising later? (ask shefaly: the dharavi spirit)

  21. August 19, 2009 10:37 pm


    Okay,The photograph has been stolen which is wroung and it is a gross violation of the copyright act.but why you are not serious about the Article.It seems the article also has been copied (with a different heading) with what i can read in the post and in the news paper picture.

    Now my respect for the news papers and the editors had gone down seeing this.

    Well, further i read meeta comment where she complained to TOI for stolen article from her blog.This is a big surprise to me that our newspapers can stoop to this level.
    Definetly we cant believe their version of news.I know this but now i am convinced how unprofessional these newspaper’s management are.

  22. Jyothi Ajithkumar permalink
    January 17, 2010 8:26 pm

    Hi Nita,

    I woke up today to find that DNA (Bangalore Edition) has taken a photograph from my website –

    The photograph was used for the article ‘A Tragic Hero came, saw and enthralled’ written by Shilpa CB. This photograph was taken without my permission and also the photograph published did not reveal the source. I was quite dismayed that such a reputed paper like DNA
    could do this!!


    • January 17, 2010 9:08 pm

      Hi Jyothi, I am dismayed to read this but cannot say I am surprised. Reputed newspapers do this too as ethics is not something they know about. And you know our laws!! In my case even when I wrote to the editor of the HT they did not bother to respond or pay me and even the press council of India did not reply so you know that they all think that stealing is part of the game. It certainly helps them save a few bucks and make profit at the cost of people like us. Anyway, you can still complain and who knows the editor of DNA may be a more ethical person that that of the HT. One marathi newspaper which stole my photograph apologized and paid me after I wrote to them and therefore I never blogged about them. So the first thing you should do is write to the editor. If they do not respond, then blog about it. Best of luck

      • Navin Kumar permalink
        May 1, 2010 9:39 pm

        Hi Nita

        How R U????
        Am Navin and still a naive in the field of photography.

        last year i saw one of my photograph in TOI which was cropped up and was printed without mah permission and apart from all this they didn’t even pay the courtesy to me so can u tell me that how can i demand apology letter or a cheque from them
        can u plz tell me the whole procedure.

        i will b really thankful to u from the copre of mah heart
        thanx alot


        Navin, please write to the editor and follow it up with a phone call. Please talk directly to the top person. That is the only way. Also write to the press council of India. In India, this is the only way. Going to court will take years and that is why these newspapers steal. They have no shame at all, and no conscience. So don’t bet that they will reply and take any action. Only those with a sense of shame and ethics will bother to reply. On your part, do watermark your photos and do not publish them in high resolution. Best of luck. – Nita

        • NATHI permalink
          March 1, 2011 2:04 am

          Wow man I am not suprised by this, please update me on respond from The paper editor after u wrote them a letter.

  23. October 11, 2011 11:01 pm

    Hi there
    I have read your comments with great interest as Times of India has also infringed upon my copyright of a photo. What they have done (I found this out through the stats section in my Flickr account) is that they have a tag “spitting in public” on their photo search and it leads to a thumbnail of my photo on Flickr. Clicking on the photo takes you to my Flickr account. While they have not directly published it, by making a thumbnail available to see on their page, it is still reproduced on a site other than my Flickr site, which makes it theft. I emailed them (I am in the UK) and did not get a reply. I have emailed them again with a very stern message and have given them 48 hours to negotiate a license price for 2 months use of the photo (I saw on my stats 2 months ago that it had been used.)
    I dont hold out much hope of hearing from them, but at least by emailing them I hope its a wake-up call for them that photographers and other creative persons are watching and that we are not going to take this lying down.

    Thats great to hear Renata. The Times of India are known to be big thieves, not just of photographs but of ideas too. I was free-lancing for them and they would steal my ideas and give them to other free-lancers without informing me. They have also published a column idea which I suggested without giving me any credit for it. Basically they may not be organised thieves, but my experience with them shows that they are careless, unethical and without conscience. But why them. Most other Indian newspapers, the top ones, are similar. I have had a bad experience with Hindustan Times as you have read. There even writing to the editor himself evoked no response! As I said, absolutely no conscience or ethics, even at the top level. How does it hurt to pay a few hundred rupees for a photograph when their editors are raking it in the moolah? I really wish some foreign agency sues them for thousands of dollars so that they learn to pay instead of stealing what is not theirs. – Nita


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