Another episode of plagiarism!

Here is the third time (first time, second time) one of my works is getting plagiarised. I had taken a photo of Malayalam actor Chembil Asokan in 2012 at the Trivandrum Museum during the shooting break of TK Rajeev Kumar’s “Thalsamayam Oru Penkutty”. This photo was lifted by the makers of the short film “3D” for use in the film posters. This happened last year, but I came to notice it only recently during a Google image search. Although they attributed the photo credit to me on their Facebook page, they never bothered to contact me for permission. The attribution made me think at first that it was a “dignified” act of plagiarism, but soon I was proven wrong.
The original photo that I took
I understand that they lifted the photo from my Flickr page, where the copyright information was given clearly. I contacted the makers of this film and they apologised for using my photo without consent. They told me they tried to get my contact details but couldn’t. At this point, the word “dignified” can be removed from this act of plagiarism. The photo I posted on Flickr had my name and website address on it. Since my name was used for attributing the photo credit, there is no way the website address can go unnoticed. That made it evident that they did not even bother to approach me for the rights. I was told that they found a “clean photo” from the Internet without my name or website address on it. So, how on earth did they realise that it was Sreejith Panickar who took the photograph when they considered giving photo courtesy? When I asked for the link to the “clean photo” they got from the Internet, they said their harddsik crashed last year and no information was available! I am glad they acknowledged my work on social media and apologised for plagiarism, but they must know that lifting someone else’s work without permission is still plagiarism at the end of the day. If they really couldn’t find the contact details of the copyright owner, they shouldn’t have used the photo at all.

4 thoughts on “Another episode of plagiarism!

  1. I am not trying to state/prove something….& am no one to the person who used this pic as well….A photograph taken with relevant contents related to a movie or artwork or its personalities while being in the 'production costume/makeup/location' belongs to the legal guardian roughly called as 'producer/beneficiary/legal investor with relevant rights' and a picture taken , even with own camera is a violation of the imposed/practicing law..claim wont reach anywhere legally as you dont own the artistic work. They can defend it by saying the statement that they took the pic from the movie screenshot or so…even going with digital forensics also wont help you reach anywhere with the claim unless u produce a written consent from the above said guardian at that time (the owner at the time of shoot,after that rights may have been sold to someone)..The person who took this photograph is still vulnerable to legal troubles if a claim is raised by the suffering party(producer)….Just thought to tell you as this is the deemed fit legal scenario…Good luck anyways


  2. Thanks for the comment. You are completely wrong in your assumptions because of the following points:

    1. Whatever be the situation, the rights to a photograph rests with the photographer. Nobody else owns it, be it the location, be in costumes and make-up or whatever. Even the rights to the photos taken by the photographer who is paid to take official photos (paid by the producer) are with the photographer and not the producer. Taking a photo of the location or created set will also not come under any infringement because the location or set do not have any copyrights of their own. In simple terms, the complete ownership of a photo rests with the photographer.

    2. A picture taken in a public place will never come under any law infringement. That problem occurs only to photos taken in private places. This location is a public place.

    3. A photograph of a person or people (especially people that are widely known – like politicians, actors, celebrities) can be taken and published as long as you are not showing nudity, and the purpose is not disrespect. Else even the press would not be able to photograph Oommen Chandy and publish it in the newspaper. Hope you got the point.

    4. The so called written consent from the guardian (in photographic terms called a “model release”) is not needed for an individual to take and post photoson the web. The only restriction is that you cannot “sell” such pictures commercially. For example, such photos cannot be used in advertisements, endorsements, or posters. If you want to do that, you need model release from the subject of the photo (and not the producer guardian as you wrote). In my case, I have not sold this photo. But the photo was illegally used in a film poster without my permission or the model release. And the model release must be obtained by the copyright owner – in this case me. In simple terms, even if the makers of this short film take a model release from the subject of this photo, they cannot use it. The subject can give a model release to me only.

    5. The plagiarisers cannot say they took the photo from the movie screenshot. Are you living in a fool's paradise to think so. As I said, the captured moment does not come in the movie. Even if it did, what is the maximum resolution and clarity you think this exact frame can have? I have the highest resolution of this picture and that is more than enough to prove my point in a court of law.

    6. Digital forensics? You are joking? There is something called an EXIF data with a photograph. That will help to identify the original parameters at the time of clicking a photograph. As I said, since the model release is not at all a requirement in this case, I can easily win this if I approached a court of law.


  3. And best of all, the makers of the short film have already acknowledged that I own the rights and also apologied for their wrongdoing. I have archived the digital communications with them. 🙂


  4. And I missed one more point. Only the copyright owner has the right to edit and rework a photo. It is clear that the short film people have done that. They mirrored the image, altered the background slightly, and changed the tones.


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