Anton's original image (above) and the image as it appeared in The Manila Bulletin (below).
Photographer Anton Sheker has sued a 108 year old Philippine newspaper for copyright infringement and damages for using his photograph without his permission.
The Manila Bulletin threatened to “slap” Sheker with a criminal case when he first entered his claim, but he has continued to take the case further with the help of lawyer Atty Rod Vera, using EXIF data from the images as evidence.
It has been over a year since Sheker first noticed his images in a travel feature of major daily newspaper The Manila Bulletin.
“It was way back in March 2007 when I noticed the feature. I was reading the paper and saw a photo that looked very familiar. I put the newspaper down but the photo kept haunting me, so after a few minutes I looked at the photo again and checked it against my photos of Vigan that I had posted in my online blog.” said Anton.
After checking the EXIF data against his own picture he realised that the pictures had been taken from his personal blog and used in the feature without his permission.
“The first thing I did was confirm that the photo was mine. After that I was at a loss for words and didn't know what to do. None of my friends had ever encountered a similar situation, so I took my time and got advice. I also spent time looking for the right lawyer and was introduced to Atty Rod Vera by another photographer who was involved in a case about copyright ownership. He was instrumental in helping me file the case, explaining the details of copyright and that this would be a landmark case in Philippine Copyright Law,” he explained. “This is the first time a case like this will be filed in court in the Philippines, but definitely not the first time photos were stolen online by a major daily there.”
The case is now being examined but, as Anton explains, it could be a while before it gets to court and a verdict is decided:
“The wheels of justice turn really slow in the Philippines. This might take months or if contested even years,” commented Anton. “I have at several points since just been wanting to drop the whole thing but I felt that if I let this go, I would be doing the photography industry a great disservice. With the help of my lawyer I pushed through with the case and have gotten overwhelming support from online and offline photography groups. I advise any photographer in a similar situation to do the same. My prayer is that stealing photos online shall be put to a halt and that this case may make a difference for all the photographers online.”
Anton has now written a guide for photographers detailing what measures to take should you become a victim of copyright infringement. ePHOTOzine wish him the best of luck with his case. To view the guide, please click here.