|My Mantigue Island image as seen on my Flickr page|
|The stolen image as can be seen on the Camiguin Tourism Association site|
|Last Wild Place launch still image of my Tinuy-an image used without my permission|
|My image of Tinuy-An Falls as can be seen on my Flickr site|
Anyway, first step to what I hope will be an amicable discussion: a very civilized email. An email to the site bounced (why put an email address on your site when it's not going to be useful anyway) so I put a call to the number listed which turned out to be the mobile number of the president of the association. I was told that the association, while acknowledging the unauthorized use of my image, is not willing to shoulder the responsibility or the expense for what happened. Since the webmaster is a foreign national who is overseas until late this year, can I wait until he comes back? And oh she added in a separate text message, the webmaster is asking if my images are copyright-registered anyway. I'm normally a peace-loving person but seeing that text message made my blood boil. The gall of somebody to steal my image and when caught red-handed, he even had the temerity to ask if I HAVE COPYRIGHTS FOR MY OWN IMAGE/S.
Airing this concern sometimes lead to completely-unwarranted opinions -- one of my former bosses even blamed me for putting my pictures on the internet; another smart-aleck told me point-blank " you should be happy your picture got stolen; if it was crap, it would not even merit a second look". Well, the internet is a wonderful venue to share stuff with other people who would not otherwise have the chance to see them. But when I mean share, it's for them to see and appreciate, not to steal. As it stands now, the internet becomes a tool for other people to steal what's not theirs and worse, claim it as their own. In the race for coming up with site content, some people or publishers sadly resort to dirty tactics. In this case, I just didn't expect a formal tourism association to resort to this. (To think, Camiguin ranks high up among my most favorite places in the Philippines). And to add insult to injury, the webmaster even had the temerity to question my ownership of the image. Huh? Instead of a sincere apology and a gesture to discuss how to remedy the situation, I get this? To further deepen the mystery, why did the webmaster give credit to Camiguin Action Geckos Dive and Adventure Resort for their images (see page on "Visiting Hibok-Hibok and Old Volcan") and neglect to give credit to me?
|Screenshot: © All Rights Reserved on the image|
"All rights reserved" is a phrase that originated in copyright law as part of the formal requirements for copyright notice. It indicates that the copyright holder reserves, or holds for their own use, all the rights provided by copyright law, such as distribution, performance, and creation of derivative works; that is, they have not waived any such right.
Some well-meaning friends and acquaintances who've seen my earlier post in FB advise me to hire a lawyer and sue. I'm a pragmatic person, busy trying to earn my keep. Honestly, if I have the means, I may consider that. But it's some sort of a idealistic move that in real life, does not yield the desired results -- take for instance the high-profile case of a known photographer that dragged for years with nothing to show for it. I'm writing this so it can perhaps serve a higher purpose -- maybe of educating other bloggers/photographers/writers to be more vigilant. Maybe one day, we in the blogging community, inspite of our differences, will be united in helping put a stop to the thievery, and give credit where credit is due.
Attributions: Definition of phrase from Wikipedia • Screenshots of Mantigue image from Flickr and the Camiguin Tourism Association current website • Screenshot of Tinuy-an Falls author's own