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New media’s next battle with old media? 

Call me a sucker for David v. Goliath cases, but I had to find out a bit more about what was happening with ’s alleged breach of Michael Yon’s copyright when the French company one of his for its new , . It’s apparently dragged on, and says it’s because of additional misbehaviour on the French publisher’s side—namely a republication of his image.
   As I outlined earlier, Michael took a photo in of a US soldier carrying the body of a child who had been murdered by terrorists. As a former green beret, he intended it to honour the work the was doing in Iraq, but Shock used the image to show that Iraq was the US’s next .
   While American doesn’t extend to a , it does appear that Michael’s was violated, in addition to his actual .
   Michael would have got some satisfaction in knowing that some North American voluntarily withdrew Shock. Some, though not Michael, are calling for , including a blogger called Elizabeth Taylor.
   So is it all over? Apparently not. Last week, the photograph appeared on a Hachette web site for five days. According to Michael, he gave no permission for that. Without reading the agreement, I believe him, because of a simple question: why would he?
   Hachette is sticking to its story, saying it has not violated any agreement, and that Michael has walked away from discussions. It has maintained that it licensed the photograph from Polaris Images, but Michael says he has never done any deals with Polaris. A statement on the Shock web site reads:

SHOCK Magazine has reached a settlement with Michael Yon’s lawyers regarding the use of his cover shot taken in Iraq. Yon is satisfied that there has been a misunderstanding and that SHOCK and its parent company, Hachette Filipacchi, acted in good faith in procuring rights from Polaris, a photo agency. They acknowledge that we have worked responsibly to find a solution, and, after discussions, we have agreed to pay Yon a licensing fee for the photograph and to make a contribution to Fisher House, a charitable organization dedicated to providing low-cost lodging to veterans and military families.

If that’s the case, why would Hachette Filipacchi presume that further usage on its web site, after the incident became so very public, was acceptable?
   Advertising Age, which has also been following the story, was unable to contact Polaris to get a comment.
   Innocent or not, Hachette’s most recent alleged moves fly in the face of several , which is why I feel it could be digging itself into a hole:
   • people are more aware of their own rights and copyright now, thanks to Flickr and ;
   • people have become sick of that aren’t of any great quality, hence the decline in circulation of many titles;
   • there is a greater trend toward individual authors as being more relevant and authentic versus traditional which may have ;
   • individual believe they have the power to suggest and carry out .
   As Michael tells it, it eventually took Hachette Filipacchi half an hour to remove his photograph from the Shock web site when he made enough of a legal threat. Prior ‘cautions’ for days resulted in no changes.
   Apparently, money is not Michael’s primary motive: he wishes for the ‘vast majority’ of proceeds from this dispute with Hachette Filipacchi to go to Fisher House. In fact, he has turned down numerous usage requests of the disputed photograph which he feels do not respect its sanctity; Michael says it is ‘sacred’ to him.
   Watch this space. This could escalate in the week ahead. Shock is damaged goods in America, from what the reports. It’s gained itself a dose of very bad . But if people like Elizabeth Taylor are still unhappy, will they target other Hachette Filipacchi ? Will this be the next -versus-old media battle?
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Here is a thought. The traditional industries are resistant towards the internet on the start. Subsequently with their initial successes, the traditional industries began to adopt the new media and started increasing their revenue through these new channels. For example, if you look back, originally Amazon is the only online bookstore, subsequently, Borders and Barnes & Noble also started their online store to tackle against the rise of Amazon. Similarly for supermarkets as well.

I wonder whether the new media may eventually be subsumed or assimilated by the old media.

yours sincerely,
Hi BL: thanks for stopping by. Sorry I left our last dialogue on the blogs in mid-conversation—my schedule remains rather horrid.
   I feel new media, because of the number of citizens, will not be assimilated. If one blog, or one site, is, there will always be a débutant around the corner. The nature of Web 2·0 is such that it may not work in the realm of larger media firms, because it was set up to be a counter to them.  
The problem here lies with the original distribution of the image, something which Yon, oddly does not refer to. This image was disseminated as a U.S. military handout to many media organizations without Yon's permission. Thus, the error is with the U.S. military. Granted, HFM should have acted more quickly after realizing the error. However, Yon's grandstanding seems to be a publicity stunt, presenting the David (Yon) battling the Goliath (HFM) when the photo was in fact obtained in good faith by HFM, who, in turn, obtained it from one of several agencies that had also run the image, having received it from the U.S. government. Granted, I'm not associeated with HFM, Polaris, etc but, after some healthy research - those seem to be the facts.

Hi Jack,

Great to hear from you.
I have done a post in SG Entrepreneurs which entitled New Media vs Old Media based on a similar thing happening in citizen journalism in Singapore.

The real difference is the freedom to distribute information across the world for free. People want that power, but it is a matter of how the traditional industries will try to curb it.  
Anonymous, thank you for your comment. I do admit that I have not enquired with Hachette beyond the official statements, though I did enquire with Michael and he seems a straight-up bloke. For most of the time, he hasn’t really pushed his work, though I will say that if I were in his shoes, I would use the publicity as best I could.
   Thank you for the link, BL. I believe I did catch your post on the day you made it, but haven’t had a chance to absorb it properly. I do thank you for your kind link, to be sure!  
The facts are that Polaris did not obtain the rights from anyone.
The facts are that Hachette used the pic without authorization. They must have known Polaris did not have the rights or why would they have included an AP photo of Mr Yon with a caption below implying that Mr Yon submitted the photo.

The original distribution of the pic was limited. The Military settled quickly. Polaris claimed to have received the pic from Mrs Beiger. Emails indicated that was not true.

Polaris has never run the image nor did they receive it from the Military.

The facts as presented by the first anonymous are incorrect and have not been researched at all but appear to be made up.  
Thank you, Anonymous, for clarifying that. My gut is pretty good and as I said, Michael Yon seems to be a decent man.
   In any case, my post stands: Hachette’s standing is in jeopardy and gives people an extra reason to doubt big publishing firms like that. It could have been a lot more responsive and polite, and it’s not as though it didn’t have a chance.  
Michael Yon does some excellent work reporting from the front lines, and he brings ethics to reporting. That is very apparent by his actions to not " Sell Out" to mass media orgs trying to use lawyers to twist the truth to fit their agendas.

I do think people are starting to wake up to the fact that the mainstream news media is losing credibility and I hope more wake up.

There is a new face now reporting in Iraq. Wesley Morgan, he is a young ROTC sophmore from Princeton and he is just starting his embeds and he has a lot of knowledge of the new counter insurgency tactics... he even carries his military counter insurgency 700+ page manual around with him like it was gold. Wesley Morgan writes very well, and you feel like you are walking beside him as you read his articles.

Here is a link to for more information about Wes's Blog.
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Entries from 2006 to the end of 2009 were done on the Blogger service. As of January 1, 2010, this blog has shifted to a Wordpress installation, with the latest posts here.
   With Blogger ceasing to support FTP publishing on May 1, I have decided to turn these older pages in to an archive, so you will no longer be able to enter comments. However, you can comment on entries posted after January 1, 2010.

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