In the age of digital exploration, there are no norms or ethics of using others work in various horizons.

Ravi Dhingra : Image taken from his Facebook Profile

Works of visual artists are affected mostly, because of unsorted usage of their creativity. Most of the business enterprises, irrespective of the business volume, use images and creatives in illegal ways even not giving a courtesy quote! Visuals and images are used randomly by others and it is quite tough to get noticed the works of the artists. Photographers around the globe suffer in this for quite a some times. Popular social media such as Facebook do not display the image details when downloaded in your device, this also causes a major issue of misuse of photographs, and getting details of that particular photo is quite time taking jobs for others.

Posters Framed at Dilli Haat, shot by Ravi Dhingra
Posters Framed at Dilli Haat, shot by Ravi Dhingra
Posters Framed at Dilli Haat, shot by Ravi Dhingra
Posters Framed at Dilli Haat, shot by Ravi Dhingra

Ravi Dhingra, New Delhi based independent photographer and Photography mentor recently raised the debate again when he saw his images are being used in various food stalls in Dilli Haat, a craft market in Delhi. After seeing his images are being used by others, he started communication and there after he added few of his photographs used in the stalls at Dilli Haat in his Facebook page. In his Facebook post very recently, on December 25, he elaborated a detailed note that was sent to the Copyright Violator; and in another Facebook Post on January 10 this year, Mr. Dhingra highlighted how the Copyright Violator questioned about the ownership authenticity of those images which were taken from Dhingra’s Flickr Account! Conversations are there in his blog also. It is not a very new thing to him just like many others. Few times ago, he shouted when one of the largest selling dailies of India published his images without notifying him.

The debate should go on, with a justified solutions specially in favour of the artists. Ravi Dhingra’s expertise advise in his blog post ‘Copyright or Right to Copy?’ is very simple yet effective for others too. He wrote :

“From the experience above, now I try to keep things simple and follow the following steps:

‘1. Immediately intimate about the copyright violation at the mail id mentioned on the website of the violator clearly mentioning that it is a criminal offence.

‘2. Use the social media to publicise and connect to the right person in the organisation (Facebook and Twitter work perfectly well). In all cases I have been able to get the details of senior people in the organisation.

‘3. Write to these senior people informing them about the violation and seeking a solution to resolve the matter.

Image stolen from Ravi Dhingra’s Flickr Account

‘4. Most of the time, matter is resolved at this stage..the standard replies are: our employee did it, we normally pay Rs 500/ for the image but will pay Rs 1500/- as a special case. I don’t agree to these submissions and quote a reasonable amount ( definitely not six figures) as compensation for the unauthorised use.

‘5. If this does not work, I threaten them with filing a criminal complaint with the IPR Cell of Local Police. These companies have strong legal departments and serving legal notice does not affect them. It is a matter of filing another response in routine. But a threat of criminal complaint makes them think twice as it is a non-bailable offense and if the complaint is proved to be genuine, the directors or senior employees will have to appear in the court to seek bail and this is not easy-money and time both will have to be spent. So their ‘strong’ legal department suggests a settlement.

‘A few things to be taken care before taking any action for copyright violation :

‘1. Ownership of the photograph: you should be in a position to prove that the photograph was taken by you. The RAW image, unedited JPEG if don’t have RAW, EXIF Data ,MetaData ( in some cameras you can feed the copyright information which shows in the metadata).

‘2. Exclusivity of the photograph: there is a possibility that the photograph was taken during a photo walk or any other place where many other photographers were present. They might have similar frames, not exact. It will be difficult to prove ownership, not impossible but will need more efforts.

‘3.Keep the compensation amount reasonable. An exorbitant amount (others will suggest) will delay the whole process of settlement. But once you decide on a figure, which you feel is reasonable, stick to it. No further negotiations.

Image copyright : Ravi Dhingra

‘4. Patience is the key here. The replies to your mails may not be prompt. There is a possibility of no reply also but once the violation has been brought to the decision makers, some action will definitely be taken . A few reminders will keep the issue alive.”