Dateline is a one-year-old Islamabad-based English-language daily newspaper.
In the Jan. 6, 2012 edition, Dateline Islamabad published a photo of the Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting with the caption, “Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan inaugurates Radio Pakistan new bilingual website Thursday—Dateline Photo.”
Despite the credit to Dateline, Independent News Pakistan owns the above photo. According to emails available from INP’s office, the agency released this photo to all the newspapers in Pakistan that subscribe to its footage service. But, INP authorities are reluctant to term ONLINE’s plagiarism of its copyrighted photos an illegal practice.
We asked the editor of Independent News Pakistan, Javed Qureshi, about this copyright theft. He said: “The Dateline plagiarism about the news photos of INP is not in my knowledge, but this practice to crop the news agencies’ photos is a common practice [in Pakistan].”
He added that newspapers’ cropping of photos and then re-publishing with new credit lines that credits the wrong photojournalist is a minor issue to him .
On Jan. 7, 2012, Dateline Islamabad published another photo of a press conference organized by senior poets with the caption, “UNHAPPY: Poet Aftab Iqbal Shamim (center), Fehmida Riaz and Imdad Akash address a press conference at National Press Club on Friday.—Dateline Photo by Sohail Shahzad.”
But, the same photo was released on Jan. 6, 2012 by ONLINE News Agency to their subscribers with the caption, “Senior Poet Aftab Iqbal Shamim (center), Farida Hafeez and Imdad Akash hold a joint press conference at National Press Club. ONLINE PHOTO by Waseem Khan.”
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iMediaEthics has seen the e-mail from ONLINE news agency’s photo editor, Zafar Abdullah, in which 81 photos, including the photo in question, were released Jan. 6 to all of ONLINE’s subscribers. This e-mail was shown to iMediaEthics by Abdullah.
Like Independent News Pakistan, ONLINE news agency was hesitant to treat this incident as a serious ethical violation.
ONLINE news agency’s editor-in-chief, Mohsin Jamil Baig, said by phone:
“Obviously this is a violation to run the photos of ONLINE News Agency or any other news source by cropping it and then mentioning the name of the newspaper or any photographer. But here in Pakistan no one bothers to address such kinds of issues.”
When comparing Western media’s photojournalism standards to Pakistan’s, Mohsin noted: “There is a vast difference between the East and the West and similarly the difference exists in the mental approaches of the people that belong from West and East.”
In both of these cases cited above, Dateline Islamabad took news agencies photographs, cropped them, slightly reworded the captions and then published them as their own Dateline photos.
Adding insult to injury, Dateline Islamabad had the nerve to add their own copyright line! These plagiarized photos state: “All content is copyrighted © 2011 Dateline Islamabad.”
We contacted Dateline Islamabad editor-in-chief Mustansar Javed to ask why their photographer has made such an ethical violation.
Javed told iMediaEthics by phone that he has warned the concerned photographer and asked him to be careful next time. He also said that this is not a major violation, that the published photos were not exclusive, and that their photograher has not plagiarized.