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Thursday 13 December 2012

Mail Photo Theft Hypocrisy

[Update at end of post]

The Mail Online website likes Poppy Dinsey. This 25 year old “fashion blogger” had already been featured after she appeared on the BBC Newsnight programme – the characteristically leering headline wasNewsnight bunnygirl” – and yesterday she made another appearance after finding that a porn site in the States had published photos of her without asking first.

What's f***ing wrong with a little photo copying, c***?!?

Now, given that Ms Dinsey runs a site called What I Wore Today, and uploads a photo of her in her outfit du jour on a regular basis, it is no surprise that there are a lot of photos of her out there. And it’s all too easy for someone to take copies of them, even if the results may not be a patch on the originals. But the Mail is deeply concerned about photo theft.

And that may come as a surprise to many who have encountered the Mail and its cavalier attitude to thieving photos when it suits, such as the time in 2010 when Los Angeles and Miami based agency Mavrix Photo decided to sue for copyright infringement. It was alleged that Mail Online had used as many as ten photos without permission. This was not an isolated occurrence.

After the student protests and fringe violence that took place in November 2011, photographer Thomas Welfoot sold an image of the young man who dropped a fire extinguisher on to Police from the roof of a Central London building to Sky News. The Daily Mail then lifted it and published it five times. After taking issue with this copyright theft, he was offered a fraction of the amount invoiced.

In April last year, they were at it again, this time raiding Flickr and Facebook to garner images for a Mail Online piece. This year, Neil McGrain discovered that the Mail had lifted one of his photos without permission, acknowledgement or payment, and despite his only request being that a donation was made to a late acquaintance’s memorial fund, it took several attempts to get it.

And in the same month, photographer Gakuranman found that the Mail had used several of his photos without permission and had even cropped the identifying watermark from most of them. Again, only after the Mail was pursued for payment did they agree to stump up. By now, it should not be difficult to discern a pattern of offending: lift the image and hope the photographer doesn’t pursue you.

All of which makes the synthetic outrage over Poppy Dinsey a blatantly obvious slice of hypocrisy. But perhaps there is a more straightforward explanation: the “revealing outfits” that she is alleged to wear are exactly the kind of thing that Mail Online loves to parade in its so-called “sidebar of shame”. And letting anyone else get a piece of that photo action is not in the interests of Martin Clarke and his gofers.

One rule for the Mail, and another for everyone else. No change there, then.

[UPDATE 1830 hours: In a jaw-dropping case of "You couldn't make it up", it seems that the Mail even lifted Poppy Dinsey's own photos themselves - and then ran a piece complaining about someone else doing it! Ms Dinsey has been in touch to point Zelo Street in the right direction, for which many thanks.

The photo the Mail used for their original "Newsnight bunnygirl" story was used without Ms Dinsey's permission, and without payment (the Evening Standard, formerly part of the same newspaper group, also lifted her photos, but was rather less gracious when it came to paying up).

Both papers were invoiced and ultimately settled, but once again it is a case of nick the photo, don't tell the copyright holder, and only pay up and acknowledge if pressed. The Mail went one step further, by lifting photos without permission and then castigating someone else for doing the same thing. There's some brass in those necks round at the Mail offices]

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