COPYRIGHT LOST IN TRANSLATION.

big_wuchun.jpgBlame it on the internet, if you will. Blame it on technology that makes downloading songs and pictures off the web so easy it has become second nature to do so! Everyone’s doing it so it’s OK. But, is it? Every second of the waking day, someone’s downloading someone else’s materials off the web be it MP3, photographs, designs, writing and whatever else I’ve left out that can so easily be copied or saved without sparing a thought that we’re violating something called a copyright.

What exactly is copyright? Whatever it is (to the layman), it is not the right to copy! The subject of copyright opens up a big can of worms when you dwell in its entirety but quite simply, in layman terms, it refers to legal rights held by the original creator or author. By dictionary definition of the Oxford University Press, “Copyright is the exclusive legal right, given to the originator or their assignee for a fixed number of years, to publish, perform, film, or record literary, artistic, or musical material, and to authorize others to do the same.

Which brings me to this subject of much interests, copyright protection of photographs. I recently came to recognize the cover of biG (Brunei Insider’s Guide) magazine Jan—March 2008 issue where a photograph I took at the official opening of Fitness Zone in 2007 appeared on the cover (source). I contacted the Editor of the magazine and also Kiat Chun for an explanation. There is no long story or speeches to cut short here and I’ll get straight to the point—Kiat Chun has, on behalf of Fitness Zone, written a formal apology that I’ve accepted and the correct photo credit will be published in the next issue. To further clarify, the cover photo was not downloaded from my site but from a high resolution file contained in the CD that I had given Kiat Chun as a personal gift. This answers the question that I’ve received on how the magazine was able to obtain a high resolution image.

A STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION. The next issue of BIG is out where a promise is delivered as follows.

© 2008 Apr–Jun BIG Magazine

A similar incident that came to light was photographer Mizi whose photos were used in a billboard ad. I’m grateful the designer acted responsibly and issued a formal letter of apology for his wrong doing. Unlike Mizi, I am not prepared to publish Kiat Chun’s letter in respect of his career and the likely consequence of such material being made public.

It’s all about RESPECT! In a recent visit by Microsoft South East Asia President, Chris Atkinson said

…. the local software industry and ICT business to develop, intellectual copyright law must be taken seriously and intellectual property rights should be fully respected.

In the Borneo Bulletin, March 5, 2008

Even though Atkitson believes that educating the public is effective in rooting out demand for pirated software, there should be a more iron-fisted approach with raids and litigations. It is with this combination that piracy can be stopped with the greatest effectiveness.

In what I hope was an isolated incident, Borneo Bulletin journalist Ben Ng downloaded an image from ON OPPOSITE ENDS. COMMUTING A NECESSARY EVIL and while intending to credit the photograph to SHIMWORLD, instructions to the editorial team were overlooked and the photo was mistakenly credited to the journalist instead. While Borneo Bulletin formally apologises for editorial mistakes, I’ve yet to see apologies made for matters that involve wrong photo credits. In his own capacity, Ben called to apologise for the mistake with an explanation of the logistical error! Had I seen the article first, there would probably be a blog post JAN SHIM: TEMPERATURE RISING! :)

bulletin_130208_small.jpg© Borneo Bulletin 13 Feb 2008  [full size]

WE ALL MAKE MISTAKES. Owning up to the mistakes when it’s due separates the professional and ethical from the criminals (for the lack of a better word!). One exception to the law where the photographer waives his/her rights to copyright protection is when he/she enters a written agreement with the client to produce a set of images for the client’s exclusive use. Many clients naively believe they own the photographs the minute they pay the photogs. Brunei copyright laws [also called the Emergency (Copyright) Order have existed since 1999. It’s high time we took this matter seriously.

Notable excerpts from the Copyright Law in Brunei
[a copy of the Attorney General Chambers Copyright Handout can be found on BEDB's website under iCentre]

  • The author is the person who creates the work, and the first owner of © in the work will be the author.
  • Permission to use must be in writing by the © owner
  • Permission must be obtained on each and every occasion and must be very explicit about what you want to do.
  • Using an image on a website, handout or PowerPoint presentation need permission
  • Downloading an image from a website for personal non-commercial study and only to make a single printout need not have permission.
  • Copyright duration is life of the author + 50 years [applies to all works except typographical arrangement of published edition: 25 years]
  • International © does not exist
  • Brunei is a member of the Berne Convention

Out of curiousity, mobile phones have come a long way and are equipped with high tech cameras. I believe copyright protection extends to photos recorded this way. Interestingly, my three month old Nokia E51 has no © symbol. It has commonly used currency symbols and even has other strange symbols that I’ll probably never use in my life time such as §. Nokia ought to update their operating system to include the © symbol.

55 thoughts on “COPYRIGHT LOST IN TRANSLATION.

  1. Thank you for writing this. Admittedly I have had little cause to learn about the copyright law of Brunei but it appears to be fairly typical of the rest of the world, as it should be considering it is a signatory of the Berne Convention. Regardless, I am sorry that you’ve had these issues with your work and I wanted to offer to help in any way that I can. I’ll gladly do what I can to assist!

    Many thanks for responding to this post. You’re quite the authority on matters like this and I’m grateful you took the time to drop in. Everything happens for a reason and the reason here is education—as much the violators as it is mine.

    I would not trust “the world out there” with it. People (special friends) who have seen it have been moved to tears, but unless I can find a proper publisher, which I haven’t got the energy to do, then to hell with it. I leave it to my daughter in my will because I have nothing else to give her. Copyright is sacred.

    If the poem is the only thing you can give your daughter, you should not ever get it published. The second it appears in a book for instance, it can be reproduced and will eventually make its way to the web.

    So, because I wouldn’t have given permission for them to use the photos in the first place and they knew that they needed permission to use the photo, I decided to tell them that I wanted them to pay my bill. I also figured that if I made them pay my bill then they’d be more likely not to steal photos again.

    This is going to be my approach the next incident that appears on my radar. I’m going to have an invoice for B$500 for each photograph that appears in a magazine without written consent and the figure quickly escalates to B$5,000 if it appears on a billboard. We can avoid an costly lawsuit if the matter is settled in a civil manner.

    According to my record, this is the third time and they think they can get away with it all the time. Just because the writer or person in the photo gave consent to use their pics, does not meant consent on the part of the photographer or even the person in the photo.

    You are absolutely correct although strictly in the context of this discussion, it’s the submitter’s responsibility to ensure due diligence has been taken. Specifically, I hold Fitness Zone responsible for the breach of conduct and the matter is resolved as far as I’m concerned.

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  2. If I were in your shoes and the mag were to ask, I probably would have sold the photo or agreed to release it. But what most are doing these days is that “its easier to do it first then seek forgiveness later”.

    I think your friend made an honest mistake this time. And it was a really good gesture for him to agree to apologize and credit you properly.

    To save all that trouble and tensions among friends…
    That’s why I don’t normally give people copies of images Jan.
    :D

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  3. Wu Chun should’ve at least informed you that the pic would be published. He’s a musical artist himself and should at least give sparing thoughts on copyrights laws. I’m sure he has the same problems with his copyrighted materials being copied and shared.

    And I’ve heard of Mizi’s problem from rumbings in our small photographers’ community, and didn’t think he’ll get a formal apology letter. So the link you provided of the letter was a pleasant surprise. :D

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  4. not many persons take copyright laws seriously, and thats because it is only enforced when dealing with major companies and so on. and as such the normal person who break these laws on a daily basis, has basically forgotten about the copyright aspect of it. and there is no way the breaking of copyright laws can come close if not to a complete halt, unless it is enforced from the ground up. very interesting topic Jan.

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  5. I agree wholeheartedly with what you’re saying. I think one of the problems is that the skill that goes into e.g. composing a photograph or writing a short story is not valued. If the skill is not valued, therefore, neither is the end result. I’ve heard people say that it doesn’t take a professional photographer to take a photo…it doesn’t but it does take a professional photographer to take a GOOD photo.

    I’m glad that Mizi managed to get an apology and that you managed to get your photo credit. I only wish more people/organizations here in Brunei would realize the importance of copyright.

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  6. Our breakfast conversation must have have sparked this post. :P

    I think the reason why this is not viewed seriously is because the copyright act is not enforce properly. Action is only taken when the owner lodged a report. As the Malay adage goes; pointing the forefinger to the front and thumb to your chest.

    Piracy is too rampant here in Brunei that it just went out of hand. Right clicking an image already gives you a direct access to steal and post it on your website… well the same goes with inspritational quotes, sentences and articles.

    There’s just no respect for ‘intellectual property’ or the author for that matter, if the society seem to condone it.

    If Brunei still adapt the ‘Communist Culture’ (hehee….), I guess problems like this will keep arising.. :P

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  7. Flash files.. first level deterrence.. it takes longer to process and upload but it helps.. screen capture quality is not good for printing… I’ve had some clients tried save as PDF too.. but since they were clients.. okla.. its ok for personal use.. anything commercial deserves to be taken to court…

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  8. If I were in your shoes and the mag were to ask, I probably would have sold the photo or agreed to release it. But what most are doing these days is that “its easier to do it first then seek forgiveness later”. I think your friend made an honest mistake this time. And it was a really good gesture for him to agree to apologize and credit you properly.

    Under normal circumstances, had I been asked for permission to use a photograph of mine, it’s natural the next question that follows would be the rate. After all, it’s a commercial magazine and like any serious magazine, income from advertising ensures the magazine remains profitable. I am grateful and appreciative for their quick response to the matter.

    To save all that trouble and tensions among friends… That’s why I don’t normally give people copies of images Jan.

    Keyword here is normally—it’s not something I would normally do either, having learnt a monumental lesson in PRO FOR NOTHING. INSULTS FOR FREE.

    Wu Chun should’ve at least informed you that the pic would be published. He’s a musical artist himself and should at least give sparing thoughts on copyrights laws. I’m sure he has the same problems with his copyrighted materials being copied and shared.

    As I’ve said earlier, we all make mistakes and given his hectic schedule, I’m surprised he even found the time to respond this so quickly but he’s truly apologetic for the oversight. Thanks to the MP3 generation, the line between legal and pirated music is blurred and the worse offenders are fans who in their blossoming youth and seeming innocence violate copyright laws with absolutely no remorse. To that, I am tongue-tied.

    I agree wholeheartedly with what you’re saying. I think one of the problems is that the skill that goes into e.g. composing a photograph or writing a short story is not valued. If the skill is not valued, therefore, neither is the end result. I’ve heard people say that it doesn’t take a professional photographer to take a photo…it doesn’t but it does take a professional photographer to take a GOOD photo.

    This is a delicate one. The era before digital cameras became popular, photography was ART and reproducing art carries a hefty price tag. Today that notion is long gone with perhaps the exception of a few! At the risk of offending digital lab owners with my rant, I hold them partially accountable for the demise of artistic value while the other part is digital technology empowering photographers to be selective in what they want printed. Put the two together, throw in competition between the labs and we have a print market struggling to survive on 25 cents prints!

    I’m glad that Mizi managed to get an apology and that you managed to get your photo credit. I only wish more people/organizations here in Brunei would realize the importance of copyright.

    I hope to see more support from concerned parties. Collectively we have a strong voice!

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  9. I think the reason why this is not viewed seriously is because the copyright act is not enforce properly. Action is only taken when the owner lodged a report.

    If enforceable action is taken after the fact I’d call that progress. If action were taken either as a preventative measure or on the onset of an imminent crime I’d find that hard to believe! The world we live in today is very much reactionary.

    Piracy is too rampant here in Brunei that it just went out of hand. Right clicking an image already gives you a direct access to steal and post it on your website… well the same goes with inspritational quotes, sentences and articles.

    Technically, and many probably do not know this, images that appear on the page you’re looking at have already been downloaded by the browser as cache. In the case of Windows, the images are sitting on the hard drive likely in hidden folders that aren’t obvious and they are removed when you instruct the browser to ‘Clear Cache’. Apparently software design to make surfing quicker through caching doesn’t constitute piracy until its user actually save the image to disk!

    There’s just no respect for ‘intellectual property’ or the author for that matter, if the society seem to condone it.

    As long as the majority of people here are spenders not creators, there’s very little education can do to make an impact. Photographers produce pictures, musicians produce songs, writers produce books etc .. get the idea?

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  10. I have seen this happening many many times. People always apologize profusely later, sometimes they don’t even admit they are wrong. The Asian mentality of not offending people and making a big scene has been abused. They just say sorry and that’s it. To me, sorry is not enough. They must compensate you with at least the going rate for a magazine cover shoot.

    Unless it hurts, people won’t learn. Education is not enough…there must be stern enforcement. I would seek for compensation from the magazine. They are blatantly wrong…there is not two ways about it. Make it a lesson for the industry in your country!

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  11. Ah the internet. The single greatest thing, and at the same time the most frustrating for owners of content.

    PS – love the traffic quote. I’ll add this one
    “Scientists conclude that sex leads to pregnancy”

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  12. As someone already mentioned, words are cheap. The least they should do is pay you the going rate… and that’s only if you’re feeling nice. I’m not sure if Brunei has something similar, but in the US, violating the copyright of a registered copyright equals big money for the copyright holder (but that’s only if they’re registered).

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  13. Thank you for writing this. Admittedly I have had little cause to learn about the copyright law of Brunei but it appears to be fairly typical of the rest of the world, as it should be considering it is a signatory of the Berne Convention.

    Regardless, I am sorry that you’ve had these issues with your work and I wanted to offer to help in any way that I can.

    I’ll gladly do what I can to assist!

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  14. If Brunei still adapt the ‘Communist Culture’ (hehee….), I guess problems like this will keep arising..

    Many of my international readers would be pretty confused reading this line. I make it a point to not discuss politics and/or religion both of which are notorious subjects of interests that even in the best of intentions can and will lead to unnecessary attention. Communist Culture in this context refers to a particular block of shops in the Brunei capital whose owner was one time or another been involved in a communist movement. Today, they’re affectionately called the Communist Shop and you’ll quickly see why! Quite the irony considering the thriving business of piracy is blatantly tolerated fueled by the very nature of our ignorance and disrespect of intellectual property rights!

    I write this with a tingle of guilt having patronised the shop for movies, songs and computer software. As an artist, you quickly get a taste of what it’s like to have your rights violated. This is precisely what I had written about how little effect so called education is going to help stem out piracy with no good lessons to back it up as further echoed by Award Winning Wedding Photographer, Louis Pang. But with enough support from fellow bloggers, photographers and other artists in the industry I’m confident we can be effectively heard and taken seriously!

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  15. If I were to find any of my pictures (what few of them there are that might be worth using) used elsewhere I would sue the b**tards from here to the back end of Christendom.

    That is why I have never, ever posted a short poem I wrote on the internet. It is the only thing I value that I have copyright of and, as such, I would not trust “the world out there” with it. People (special friends) who have seen it have been moved to tears, but unless I can find a proper publisher, which I haven’t got the energy to do, then to hell with it. I leave it to my daughter in my will because I have nothing else to give her.

    Copyright is sacred.

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  16. Flash files.. first level deterrence.. it takes longer to process and upload but it helps.. screen capture quality is not good for printing… I’ve had some clients tried save as PDF too.. but since they were clients.. okla.. its ok for personal use.. anything commercial deserves to be taken to court…

    Theft deterrence that also deters people from viewing the gallery. I know this as I’m one of those who won’t wait for a flash gallery to load given the notoriety of our broadband speed. Advantage of HTML based galleries is the convenience of hyperlinking to a specific picture, a method my clients use to locate the images they wish to purchase! Downside of course is one of human nature and I accept the risks for this convenience.

    Sorry or not. Words and letters are cheap. Get them to pay you. Buy that image. Or face lawsuit. i guess this should be the way. You are too nice Jan.

    I believe in giving others a chance to explain and this isn’t me being nice but being reasonable. If you accept the saying, “do unto others as you have others do unto you” just imagine one day the tables turn and you’re not given the benefit of the doubt!

    Unless it hurts, people won’t learn. Education is not enough…there must be stern enforcement. I would seek for compensation from the magazine. They are blatantly wrong…there is not two ways about it. Make it a lesson for the industry in your country!

    I’m with you 100%. It seems the only effective way to learn is through hard lessons and I won’t hesitate to go the distance if/when I feel it’s right to do so.

    As someone already mentioned, words are cheap. The least they should do is pay you the going rate… and that’s only if you’re feeling nice. I’m not sure if Brunei has something similar, but in the US, violating the copyright of a registered copyright equals big money for the copyright holder (but that’s only if they’re registered).

    At this point, the magazine has agreed to publish the correct credit in the next issue and have also agreed to possibilities of using my images in future publication. Jan Shim Photography is a registered business name in Brunei so yeah, I’m legit.

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  17. I had a photo stolen from a blog of mine by a local political party. They knew enough to ask me for permission to use my photograph, because I got an email from them asking if they could use the photo. When I got the email, I went straight to their website to see what sort of things they had there, only to find my photograph already featuring there!! This wasn’t plain ignorance, this was blatant stealing. I was also terribly embarrassed, because they had credited me (used my blog name which is meaningless) and had linked back to the blog in which there was a lot of crap written in the comments section by a friend of mine.

    I sent them an email with an invoice attached. In the letter I asked that they credit me with my real name, and to remove the link to my weblog. They rang me, cried poor and asked if I would accept their apology and asked if I would forget about the bill I’d sent. I wasn’t sure what I should do. When asked, I generally let non-commercial people use my photographs for free, but I generally don’t give permission for commercial groups to use my photos. So, because I wouldn’t have given permission for them to use the photos in the first place and they knew that they needed permission to use the photo, I decided to tell them that I wanted them to pay my bill. I also figured that if I made them pay my bill then they’d be more likely not to steal photos again. They paid up, and I bought myself a flash for the camera. :-) They also removed the photo, and to my knowledge have never used it again, even though they’d paid for it.

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  18. Thank you for sharing this post. Sorry to say this but this is not the first for the BIG Magazine to do so. According to my record, this is the third time and they think they can get away with it all the time. Just because they writer or person in the photo gave consent to use their pics, does not meant consent on the part of the photographer or even the person in the photo.

    They think they can get away with it all the time. I wish you could sue them to teach them and others a lesson.

    I know many enjoy seeing their faces or photos taken and put in magazines. Some others prefer privacy or at least consent on the part of their faces being used in magazine and blogs.

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  19. Thank you for writing this. Admittedly I have had little cause to learn about the copyright law of Brunei but it appears to be fairly typical of the rest of the world, as it should be considering it is a signatory of the Berne Convention. Regardless, I am sorry that you’ve had these issues with your work and I wanted to offer to help in any way that I can. I’ll gladly do what I can to assist!

    Many thanks for responding to this post. You’re quite the authority on matters like this and I’m grateful you took the time to drop in. Everything happens for a reason and the reason here is education—as much the violators as it is mine.

    I would not trust “the world out there” with it. People (special friends) who have seen it have been moved to tears, but unless I can find a proper publisher, which I haven’t got the energy to do, then to hell with it. I leave it to my daughter in my will because I have nothing else to give her. Copyright is sacred.

    If the poem is the only thing you can give your daughter, you should not ever get it published. The second it appears in a book for instance, it can be reproduced and will eventually make its way to the web.

    So, because I wouldn’t have given permission for them to use the photos in the first place and they knew that they needed permission to use the photo, I decided to tell them that I wanted them to pay my bill. I also figured that if I made them pay my bill then they’d be more likely not to steal photos again.

    This is going to be my approach on the next incident that appears on my radar. I’m going to have an invoice for B$500 for each photograph that appears in a magazine without written consent and the figure quickly escalates to B$5,000 if it appears on a billboard. We can avoid costly lawsuits if the matter is settled in a civil manner.

    According to my record, this is the third time and they think they can get away with it all the time. Just because the writer or person in the photo gave consent to use their pics, does not meant consent on the part of the photographer or even the person in the photo.

    You are absolutely correct although strictly in the context of this discussion, it’s the submitter’s responsibility to ensure due diligence has been taken. Specifically, I hold Fitness Zone responsible for the breach of conduct and the matter is resolved as far as I’m concerned.

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  20. Me and ZadM had this happen to us, at almost the same time. My story was that I provided the images for use under the Creative Commons License which must include Attribution to me, and made it a point to inform whoever I gave that CD that fact, and also include that in the DVD I given them.

    I found one of the photos I took that day in Borneo Bulletin one day because I remember my distinct style of using off camera flashes. And as it had happened time and time again, the reporter who wrote the story gets credited with the image.

    I worked it out with the Uni in UK whom I provided the photos for and also got in contact with the reporter. The Uni representative apologized profusely, but I wasn’t really out for blood. I just needed to flex some muscle and remind everyone that the simple act of Attribution goes a long way.

    I think there’s a possibility that all stories that a Borneo Bulletin reporter writes almost always have the photos credited to them, as that’s the most logical, illogical answer I can think of. Which means our story will indeed repeat again and again until they get their act together and starts respecting our rights.

    “I hope to see more support from concerned parties. Collectively we have a strong voice!” – Yep, we echoed this sentiment as well when this topic came up over breakfast the other day. We need to stay organized so they know we are not messing around and not to be messed with!

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  21. Sorry to hear that this happened!! Glad to hear Chun apologized for it and recognize it is a serious matter!!However, I think it is kind of late to publish the correction in next month …

    Anyways, did you enclose something about copyrights issue along with the DVD you gave to Chun? if not, then it is kind of your own fault that this is happening because you did not inform your customer that he isn’t allowed to let other publisher use your pictures without permission.

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  22. However, I like to say that the newspaper incident is just plain screw up!!! Geez! I cannot believe a newspaper would do that !!!They know better!! Are they going to fix that?

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  23. My story was that I provided the images for use under the Creative Commons License which must include Attribution to me, and made it a point to inform whoever I gave that CD that fact, and also include that in the DVD I given them.

    You do realise that the Creative Common License gives you, the Bruneian photographer, no jurisdiction whatsoever to protect your images. Even our more IP savvy neighbour Singapore is listed in the Upcoming Project Jurisdictions. I suggest you fall back on the Copyright Law of Brunei for legal protection instead. There is however the matter of someone outside of Brunei using our photos. What would then be our course of action that does not necessarily rack up huge legal fees?

    Creative Commons (CC) is in my opinion an attempt to soften the hard realities of Copyright and while their intentions are noble, I find the idea of Sharing your work but Keeping Your Rights to open up more questions than answers with regards to image protection. While CC may apply more to creativity in the music business, adopting this and applying it to photography isn’t necessarily effective!

    I found one of the photos I took that day in Borneo Bulletin one day because I remember my distinct style of using off camera flashes. And as it had happened time and time again, the reporter who wrote the story gets credited with the image.

    tsk tsk! Do what I’ve warned and vouched to do when photos are used in print without prior written permission or at the very tolerable least, a phone call or sms! The next time an incident occurs, send the offending party an invoice of B$500 (or higher depending on nature of infringement) and to show how nice we photogs are, they have 30 days to remit payments. :) If the system fails to remind them to the do the right thing, we can keep invoicing them until the habit becomes costly to ignore.

    I think there’s a possibility that all stories that a Borneo Bulletin reporter writes almost always have the photos credited to them, as that’s the most logical, illogical answer I can think of.

    First let’s give the reporters credit and acknowledge them properly as journalist. Now, I’ve worked with a number of journalists from the Borneo Bulletin, Brunei Times and Chinese press, the responsible ones have given me confidence that among the bad apples, there are good ones who do the right thing!

    Which means our story will indeed repeat again and again until they get their act together and starts respecting our rights.

    This is expected—humans are not perfect and we make and are allowed to make mistakes. Except some mistakes are costly and we learn from them one way or another. To make this post prominent, you are welcome include this badge and link this post to it.

    Sorry to hear that this happened!! Glad to hear Chun apologized for it and recognize it is a serious matter!! However, I think it is kind of late to publish the correction in next month …

    As long it’s actionable, nothing is ever too late. Too late in my books would be when lives are lost from a serious oversight. We are not handling any matters of life and death here so people (including those who run magazines) are given a chance to correct the wrong!

    Anyways, did you enclose something about copyrights issue along with the DVD you gave to Chun? if not, then it is kind of your own fault that this is happening because you did not inform your customer that he isn’t allowed to let other publisher use your pictures without permission.

    What bullshit nonsense is this? Copyright protection is AUTOMATIC and this is true in the USA as much as it is in Brunei Darussalam. As someone pointed out, artistes more than anyone else are fully aware of unlawful use of materials that aren’t licensed for use by them. Your comment shocked me more than the very incident I’m writing about here! Looking at all the photographs on my blog, underneath each photograph is a © symbol. Distribution of the same photographs on CD or any other media retains this copyright.

    Copyright Protection Is Automatic
    Under the present copyright law, which became effective January 1, 1978, a work is automatically protected by copyright when it is created. A work is created when it is “fixed” in a copy or phonorecord for the first time. Neither registration in the Copyright Office nor publication is required for copyright protection under the present law.

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  24. Excellent post and good discussion I must say. I totally agree with your views here. I guess we all need to be educated on copyrights for a country where pirated CDs, software and fake goods are plenty around. It’s part of that education process where we need to re-register our brains that it is wrong to ‘steal’ and not giving due recognition to the real photographer. I also agree with you that just because you gave a photo CD to someone that they can use for their own personal benefits gains.

    From an academic perspective, we can quote/source a writer on their original works but to use their owns words without citing the source, that is plagiarism. In Australian Unis, that is a bad conduct and a student can be expelled. That shows how important having original works is!

    So, being honest and not stealing other people’s work are strong values that we must learn and adhere to.

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  25. I don’t know how it is in Brunei, but in the US, your work isn’t legally protected unless you register your work with the US Copyright Office.

    Check out the following two links:

    http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-general.html#protect

    http://www.weddingphotographydirectory.com/wedding-photo/for-wedding-photographers/professional-articles/photo-copyright-protection.aspx

    So in other words, it is not ethical to publish photos without the permission of the photographer who initially took the picture, however, it is not illegal unless the photos are registered or a disclaimer was given to the customer.

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  26. I don’t know how it is in Brunei, but in the US, your work isn’t legally protected unless you register your work with the US Copyright Office.

    I don’t think anyone knows much about the copyright laws here since we’ve yet to go through litigation process and I hope I never have to find out if I am sufficiently protected—not a big fan of pursuing financial rewards this way!

    So in other words, it is not ethical to publish photos without the permission of the photographer who initially took the picture, however, it is not illegal unless the photos are registered or a disclaimer was given to the customer.

    Now you’re making sense! To suggest that I had waived my rights when I gave Chun a photo DVD was a wrong doing on my part was just absurd!

    It’s always been a question of ethics before law. What is scary today is that law has replaced common sense it seems!

    Many said I should “sue him [Wu Chun]” for the violation—I’m shocked at how much American TV has influenced our thinking—first thing that springs to mind is MONEY! Thankfully, the many I referred to, majority aren’t Bruneians. Pursuing financial rewards through litigation always ends up in a win-lose relationship and in a small economy such as Brunei, can we afford to be narrow and one sided?

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  27. Jenny: Very fast to deal with that misunderstanding, the registration process deals solely with the opportunities one has to sue for copyright infringement. Copyright immediate takes effect one the work is put into a fixed form:

    http://www.creditscore.net/additional-resources/understanding-copyright/

    The only reason to register a work is if you plan on suing for it. There are other ways to protect your work, most commonly DMCA notices, that are completely within your right without registration.

    Please do not confuse the limited ability to sue with a complete lack of protection in the U.S. It is complicated, but that is a myth and misunderstanding that gets far too much credibility.

    It is still VERY MUCH illegal to violate someone’s copyright, even if they have not registered the work. Also, bear in mind that only applies for U.S. citizens, internationally, one does not have to register to obtain full protections.

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  28. I guess we all need to be educated on copyrights for a country where pirated CDs, software and fake goods are plenty around. It’s part of that education process where we need to re-register our brains that it is wrong to ’steal’ and not giving due recognition to the real photographer. I also agree with you that just because you gave a photo CD to someone that they can use for their own personal benefits gains.

    G’day Senor Pablo,

    Education never stops but an alarming fact remains that as people grow older, they stop learning and caring altogether and society drives us to be pursue selfish goals. Many people probably brush this matter aside, some even sigh a “Cheh!” dismissing issues of © as trivial. Whatever it may be, this issue is not yesterday news and we will chant, send smoke signals, hand signs, email and oh yeah, blog until people get it!

    I have a method to gradually stamp our software and DVD piracy in Brunei. It’s controversial but I know it would be extremely effective. It sickens me that people’s ignorance and general lack of care are what’s keeping our piracy problems rampant and if I may add, bustling! It makes us absolutely NO DIFFERENT to developing countries where piracy is second nature!

    From an academic perspective, we can quote/source a writer on their original works but to use their owns words without citing the source, that is plagiarism. In Australian Unis, that is a bad conduct and a student can be expelled. That shows how important having original works is!

    In the four years I had been in Perth, I came to know a number of overseas students expelled for bad conduct. These include fights, vandalism, you know, the regular Prison Break stuff. To get expelled due to plagiarism (for the uninitiated, taking the work or an idea of someone else and passing it off as one’s own) is something I have yet to personally encounter. Yes, original work is important enough to be appreciated and even more importantly, valued.

    So, being honest and not stealing other people’s work are strong values that we must learn and adhere to.

    Out of topic but relevant moment here. In the front page of the Bangkok Post of Mar 14, 2008 the article DECEIPT TOPS DIVORCE CAUSES reveals that dishonesty is the major causes of divorce among Thai couples according to 48% of 1,550 divorcees surveyed. So there we have it—who said the value of dishonesty cannot be quantified?

    Coming back to Senor Pablo’s last statement, this is fundamentally true for everything we do! BIG Magazine and Chun have lived up to their commitment to correct the error in the next issue.

    http://www.shimworld.com/images/bigmagcorrection.jpg

    We would like to highlight that this picture which was published on the front cover of the previous issue should rightly have been credited to: JAN SHIM PHOTOGRAPHY for FITNESS ZONE.

    And if you want to view more photos of Wu Chun, do visit Jan Shim’s site http://www.shimworld.com

    Like

  29. Pingback: A STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION « A Journey Lived

  30. You big baby!!!! Are you really that naive??

    To ask for an apology is one thing but to highlight it here?!!? The whole situation is actually unclear and you are probably to blame for all this as anyone else. You took the assignment from FitnessZone. You took photographs FOR them. You were probably PAID to do that. In normal cases, when you hand over the product of your assignment, you grant them permission to do whatever they want with those same photographs. Including for them to allowing for BIG to use them. Unless of course you made it clear to them IN THE BEGINNING that the photograps are only for them to keep or use in their own publication, and not to be published anywhere or given to any third party. Did you? Did you actually spell anything out?

    Really Jan, i admire your work but you look like a real crybaby here. Why would anyone ask you to take photos for them if they cant do anything with those same photographs??

    Like

  31. Hey Jonas,

    I guess it really depends on what were the terms of contract with the client Jan had. Normally if it were as simple as shooting for FitnessZone, the photographer who have outlined the terms and conditions of use.

    Since Jan brought up this issue here, it most likely wasnt part of the contract.

    Also he mentioned that the image got leaked by a personal friend because he gave a copy of the images to his friend for him to view (not to publish). In this case it is even more appropriate for the magazine to apologize because not doing so may get Jan into some serious trouble to begin with.
    :D
    geraldtay

    Like

  32. Jonas,

    As far as what I read above it looks like the image was taken out from a CD which was a personal gift to a friend. In cases such as these, there is no implied submission of rights and in fact, someone probably took it for granted that you can use whatever images that you get your hands onto.

    Suffice to say, that does NOT go well with anyone who depends on their creativity for livelihood like photographers, etc.

    Looks like Jan did the right thing and so did his friend after being told about the infringement; yes, a step in the right direction both to protect the rights of the photographer as well as to educate the public a bit more about what is copyright.

    Like

  33. Geraldtay, steven leong, if thats so, how come Kit Chun and Fitness zone had to apologise? I didnt get that. It looked to me like Fitness Zone is the one who released the pictures. So..who really owns the copyright here? The photographer who did the assignment on behalf of Fitness Zone, or Fitness Zone. If Jan still owns the copyright, then Fitness Zone had a bad deal when they gave the assignment to Jan. Its silly when you ask a photographer to do an assignment, but then you are unable to do whatever with those same photographs.

    Like

  34. Hi Jonas,

    I think you really got the story wrong.

    1) Jan was shooting for Tourism Board, not FZ
    2) The magazine did not seek permission to publish the images, it was a personal gift to the person who was holding on to it.

    This is what I think the story should be.

    Cheers!
    Gerald

    Like

  35. Jonas:

    I think you are being naive here. An artist, writer or photographer OWNS the COPYRIGHT to all this creative work unless he signs it away. Your argument that the copyright belongs to FZ just because FZ hired Jan for a shoot is very NAIVE. Depending on the contractual arrangement, the photographer is actually paid everytime the picture is published or advertised! Hello…are you familiar with this industry or not? BTW, as Gerald pointed out, Jan was not hired for FZ.

    Like

  36. Hi gerald, Louis. So was Jan hired by FZ or Tourism Board?? In his earlier posts, it looked like he was shooting for FZ. Maybe Jan himself can clear this up. He seems to be quiet about this. (Oh and i notice his earlier posts have been changed slightly).

    And Louis, I am in the industry. A photographer is just a photographer if he takes an assignment. Hello! ALL images do not belong to him anymore if he is commissioned to photograph on behalf of someone else. He does not own the copyright, at least not outright. Please get this right. Brunei is so lax about this that some people thinks that they own the copyright just because they do the clicking. Its different lah if you’re freelance.

    In the end, its kinda ‘blurry’ in this case who actually own the copyright. But as i said, if Jan was there because he was commissioned by FZ (or anyone else) then, by right, he does not own the copyright, at least not outright. If he (alone) does, then FZ got suckered and got a very bad deal. Logically, companies wouldnt hire Jan if they cant use the images in whatever way they think right. Wouldnt you think so?

    Like

  37. Jonas,

    Firsly, let’s be civil and stop name calling. Crybaby etc. isn’t very professional now is it?

    Just reading your posts and the replies given to the views on copyright. I am afraid you’re incorrect in a few particulars.

    On the premise that a photographer surrenders his copyright when he is commissioned. Wrong! Or more accurately, not necessarily so. In fact, the photographer retains the copyright to his photographs unless the person commissioning the work has made it a requirement that the copyright is transferred to him.

    This is rare as this sort of arrangement usually involves the payment of huge fees as no one, at least the photographers in the know, would ever ever surrender this copyright unless the remuneration was worth it.

    So, even if FZ commissioned Jan to take the photos, unless FZ expressly paid for the copyrights to the images that Jan took, these fully remain with Jan, commissioned or not.

    I hope you have not given up any rights as a photographer so easily, and I disagree that the law in Brunei is fuzzy. It’s pretty clear. It’s made fuzzy when all sorts of misinterpretation gets in the way.

    I am sure there will be further comments on this important issue and I shall look forward to hear your views.

    Meanwhile, caveat emptor!

    Like

  38. CaveatEmptor,
    Well then maybe you’re unfamiliar about how the industry in general works. What you’re saying is true when you’re a freelancer. But when you take up a commission, i.e. you work for someone, you necessarily have to surrender your work to your ‘employer’. Because they in fact own thse pictures. I kid you not. This is how it works elsewhere. In fact, i think Jan broke some copyright ‘rules’ here when he posts pictures he took while in the ‘employ’ of others, i.e. the Baiduri pics etc.

    But like i said, its kinda fuzzy in Brunei because nobody has ever tried to take this issue up in court. So Jan still assumes that he ALONE owns the copyright to the pics, and that FZ (as his ‘employer’, assuming that is true) has no right to those same pics even though they employed him to take those same pics.
    And i’m sorry if i offended by using terms such as crybaby etc. I’m just annoyed by the posts.

    Like

  39. Jonas,

    In what professional capacity are you annoyed? I’m curious as to your motive for coming here to seek attention and for goodness sake, why are you are so bent on being right that you now think you’re an industry guru and above the law? And for what purpose?

    Being “in the industry” who do you represent and who are you protecting? Do you even realise the implications on our country when you keep hammering on about Brunei laws being laxed and questioning its legality at a crucial time when my images are being used in magazines abroad for the sole purpose of attracting foreign investors into Brunei, tell me what kind of messages are you sending to them—that our legal system is not at par with international standards, that the ‘standards’ you purport is greater?

    http://shimworld.wordpress.com/2008/03/18/a-step-in-the-right-direction/

    Note the two Japanese magazines, one has a photo credit below each picture published while the other doesn’t. These are shots I got paid to produce yet the magazine honoured the creator. You’ll find that I’m extremely flexible when it comes to commercial clients as to whether or not a photo credit is published. Take Microsoft Brunei for instance, they are my commercial client and the country manager emailed me to request for written permission to use one of the photographs that I had produced earlier to be used in an ASIA INC magazine. This sort of gesture is what I’m talking about—professional and respecting the © owner.

    Also you were adamant about freelance photographers being “different.” How so? I am a FREELANCE professional photographer and the copyright law makes no distinction between whether a photograph was created by a freelance photog or otherwise. Unless the photographer signs away his/her rights, all photographs remain his property.

    Case #1. An international bank—I’ve done many events and commercial assignments for them with a mutual understanding that I may not use or showcase them for self-promotion purposes. I respect the conditions imposed on me and the same goes with another international bank.

    Case #2. Local Bank—Permission was granted to show the finished artwork on my website as client saw the value of additional traffic to their business. Client also wishes to promote localization of talents.

    Case #3. Local Insurance Co.—I entered into a legally binding agreement signed by the Magistrate Court allowing either party to use the finished artwork for publicity purposes.

    Note: I have permission from Baiduri Bank to post the “RISING HIGH” article on SHIMWORLD. Images you see in BEFORE THEY CAME TO WORK are shot in a public area and doesn’t constitute bank property (and also not part of the job scope).

    If you are in any kind of trouble with an employer or disgruntled client who has soured your experience in this industry, please do not use SHIMWORLD as your soap box.

    So I’ve established that I am a Freelance Professional, how does that change your perception of me? I sense from your aggravation that you’re not a photographer and the people you’re protecting may be at the far end of the industry spectrum resulting in Conflict of Interest. After ALL the constructive responses cannot seriously be thinking I’m all alone here!

    All that’s been said and done, you’d be pleased to know that I was neither commissioned by Fitness Zone nor Brunei Tourism for the Opening Day! It’s a public event and I happened to be available that morning, quick to seize an opportunity to shoot. It was all done in good faith and with good intentions of promoting SHIMWORLD and Brunei Darussalam leveraging on Wu Chun’s success and popularity.
    According to the copyright law, it’s within my right to profit from these images too. However, respecting a communication I had with Chun concerning the use of “WU CHUN” images in a project I was working on, he said I would require to obtain permission from his company. I decided than I would not pursue further and dropped the idea—in many cases, it’s all about mutual respect and being ethical about it.

    Something I picked up from the web by T.S. Eggleston

    If you pay for photos and/or artwork, you don’t automatically own the rights to reproduce those pictures. (even of yourself)

    When you have pictures taken of you or your product, ask questions. For example — who will own the negatives? Often pro photographers keep the negatives or transparencies and sell you just a few prints. Even when you buy the prints you do not get the copyright without a written release from the creator/copyright owner.

    If you scan photos from your annual report and use them on your website or in a public presentation you may be in violation of the copyright owners right to reproduce.

    In general, the copyright ot creative works produced by employees in performance of their duties belong to the employer. Absent a specific written release, the copyright to work done “for hire” by a designer, agency or photographer remains with the creator They have the exclusive right to control all reproduction, distribution and the creation of derivative works.

    If you plan to use these materials on a website, in presentations or public performance you should be certain that a clause similar to that below is included in any contract for the production of work that may be used for multiple purposes.

    NOBODY GOT SUCKERED IN. NOBODY GOT A BAD DEAL. QUITE THE CONTRARY, BETWEEN SHIMWORLD, BIG MAGAZINE AND FITNESS ZONE, WE HAD A WIN-WIN-WIN. BOTH BIG AND FITNESS ZONE ACTED RESPONSIBLY AND PROFESSIONALLY AND I CELEBRATE THEIR PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT BY GIVING THEM A DESERVING MENTION HERE!

    Like

  40. nicely said Jan, i for one saw no need for all of this. just goes to show you how much impact, freedom of expression can make on such a simple issue. there is nothing to argue about really, whether freelanced or bounded by an organizational committee or whatever. your work belongs to you and you have all right to confront persons responsible for the unauthorized use of your work. you did the right thing Jan and i commend you on your stand for what you believed in.

    Like

  41. Jan, thanks for the explanation. On that day, you were freelance and therefore you and you alone own the copyright. I will not argue with you on that and i admit i got that wrong because you did not say that even in your earlier blog. It just implied that you were working for FZ. My bad.

    But my point is still valid. When you take a commission, or you became in the employ of somebody, you either lose your copyright in favour of your ‘employer’, or you share copyright, meaning either party may use the images in whatever way or capacity they see fit. When you are commissioned, or you are employed by somebody, you CEASE TO BE FREELANCE, but became a representative of your employer.

    I am not here ‘seeking attention’ nor purport myself as a ‘guru’ or being above the law as you put it. Nor am i representing anybody. But you have a nice debate going on and the way it went on did not show the real story. There is a big difference between being a freelance photog and being a commissioned or employed photographer. That is something that everyone should be able to differentiate. I think you understand that and i believe you should set that straight to your readers.

    I am sorry if i caused anything by putting in my comments. By the way, some of your comments contradict each other. But i wont elaborate anymore. Nobody is right or wrong here. But a point is made clear to everybody.

    Like

  42. But my point is still valid. When you take a commission, or you became in the employ of somebody, you either lose your copyright in favour of your ‘employer’, or you share copyright, meaning either party may use the images in whatever way or capacity they see fit. When you are commissioned, or you are employed by somebody, you CEASE TO BE FREELANCE, but became a representative of your employer.

    Depends on the wording on your contract with the employer. Maybe the contracts you are used to do that. However, fact is.. in ALL legal systems around the world, copyright ownership first and foremost belongs to the creator (especially in photography). It is only when, for example, a person is HIRED contractually.. i.e. a legal and binding agreement is made.. and a clause is specifically highlighted that all creation made by that photographer belongs to the employer (and agreed/signed/witnessed by photographer). Only then the photographer gives up his/her rights to those. In short.. you are both right depending on the context.

    Jan, in this case, even IF he was asked to cover the event, would still have his rights intact because under the Brunei Law.. all creations belong to the photog (like most countries with the exception of Singapore where there is a law that states that creation made under legal contract of the employer belongs to the hirer/emplyer). As far as I know. I’m guessing you are from Singapore :)

    Anyway guys.. chill.

    Like

  43. Bottom line is this. The law prevails in the absence of a written agreement between the client and the photographer. It is as simple as that! David is right in that Singapore copyright law ‘sides’ the employer and I don’t even know if their [copyright law] makes a distinction between a freelance and employed photog but in all cases, as stated earlier, in the absence of a written agreement, the Brunei Copyright law prevails and its states the creator (photographer) owns the copyright. There is clear and subject to no misinterpretation.

    Therefore, the ONUS is on the client to be aware of this when hiring a photog for some work. By hiring, it’s assumed the photog is someone other than their in-house employee doubling as one. Refer to Caveat Emptor’s comment:

    This is rare as this sort of arrangement usually involves the payment of huge fees as no one, at least the photographers in the know, would ever ever surrender this copyright unless the remuneration was worth it.

    In our local context, I have yet to come across a deal where the remuneration was really “worth” surrendering our rights for. The general level of respect and value for photography profession here has deteriorated so much it is appalling to the point I feel we now represent the future status quo for other countries where the pinch of the digital era is felt. Should we be proud of this ‘achievement’?

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  44. Pingback: FANNING THE FLAMES OF WU CHUN « A Journey Lived

  45. Pingback: WU CHUN IN THE ZONE! UPDATED. « A Journey Lived

  46. Pingback: SOFTWARE PIRACY. IGNORANCE IS NOT BLISS. « SHIMWORLD

  47. Hi Jan,

    Do people own copyright to their personal image? ie. Eg: can someone take a shot of me & post it / use it without permission? In what context is it acceptable & when it’s not…

    Interested to know what your guideline is on this… Thks….

    Like

  48. P/s: I’ve heard that some photog go to extent of getting permission to take the shot… post / prior to taking shot…. Is that the protocol… for public /general crowd / candid shots / … etc

    Grateful for your input….

    Like

  49. Hi Jacqui,

    The creator of the image owns the right to that image. Without exploring the extend of the copyright law, the short answer to your example would be a YES especially if it was taken in public. I consider it acceptable if the photo was posted with good intentions (and be removed when requested to do so). “Post it / use it” falls in this category but in my opinion should not cross the line of being sold commercially without written consent.

    permission to take the shot… post / prior to taking shot…. Is that the protocol… for public /general crowd / candid shots / … etc

    What you’re referring to is called a Model Release. This is normally obtained for a number of purpose: commercial, legal, and can even be for non-profit use. I wouldn’t normally associate a model release with shoots in public and certainly not candid shots as they would defeat its purpose. However, if I am going to sell a picture that identifies a subject, I would obtain/pursue a model release prior to commercial engagement.

    This matter isn’t clear cut and subject to different interpretations. Where do you draw the line between law and ethics? It’s a can of worms.

    Like

  50. Jan…
    Thanks for the feedback… helps clarify…
    I suppose in back of my mind must have been the claim over that really nice “postcard” shot of couple in an embrace at train station in France that stirred in the news few years ago…

    Candid shot of couple in an embrace… taken many many years ago (seems like in the 40’s or 50’s) & someone claiming “model rights” I suppose … years later… claiming to be one of the parties in the shot… I wonder how that claim ended up… can’t remember the name of the photog… It’s a nice pix that I’ve seen often as a poster / greeting card… so touches on the commercial use of it…

    Like

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