A concerned reader with a sharp eye emailed me last night about a likely photo-napping incident. In the Philippine Daily Inquirer yesterday (page C4) and on their on-line website (both with a readership numbering in the millions on a local and global scale, compared with my modest base of 2-3,000 wonderful and loyal readers) an article by James Anthony R. Ceniza on Yema Balls features a stunning photograph of a yema sitting on an unwrapped pink cellophane wrapper. (As of 6pm Friday, the photo has been removed; but a fellow blogger has made copies of the on-line article to prove that it was in fact there earlier). The problem is that the photo is EXACTLY like a Marketmanila photograph that I took on April 16 (shown here at right) of a yema I had purchased from the Salcedo Saturday Market and which was featured in my own post on yema. And the other photograph used in the article is exactly like the photograph of yema by fellow food blogger Karen at Pilgrims Pots & Pans... please read on and at the end of this article I will give you the email addresses of people to write to help me out on this one!
Many folks have asked me for permission to use my photos but I have always asked that they attribute the photograph to Marketmanila.com. I have never been stingy with my photos, they have previously appeared in the Inquirer before, on other websites that have linked me up or vice-versa, on tour websites, in an article by a Polish researcher doing work on duhat juice, in work done by a Mexican Phd student tracing the routes of foods imported and exported through her country and most recently, in an article by a blog associated with the Harvard Law School. However, I get super hot under the collar when someone just outright uses a photograph or large portions of my posts without bothering to ensure that Marketmanila is given credit. That is stealing intellectual property and the last time that happened I contacted a lawyer who is perhaps the countryâ€™s top intellectual property rights expert and he helped me write a response to the offending photo-napper that immediately resulted in the removal of my photos from that personâ€™s site. This situation here is a bit more complicated, and potentially far more offensive. Hmm, I wonder if cyber law specialists from Harvard are reading this and want to help me out…
First, the article appears to be an entry to the PDIâ€™s Family Recipe Contest with prize money of PHP2,000 in SM gift certificates or a class with Reggie Aspiras. So, here is my guess. The writer, Mr. Ceniza, submitted his entry and didnâ€™t even bother to cook the recipe he described so that he could take his own photos. What kind of “soul” does that entry have if he didnâ€™t even bother to cook it? Instead, he chooses to â€œborrowâ€ with or without permission the photos of Marketmanila and possibly Pilgrimâ€™s Pots & Pans and does one of two things â€“ he either conveniently forgets to attribute the photos to their real source in which case I would think that might fall into the â€œstealingâ€ category, or he did in fact attribute the photographs but for some reason the Inquirer chose not to or forgot to mention it. But since I am on this topic, let me rant a bit on the winning yema recipe. Considering that this is a contest meant to use traditional Filipino techniques and ingredients, I suppose condensed milk, the ultimate shortcut for this recipe that is apparently MOST TRADITIONALLY made only with egg yolks and sugar, must thus qualify as a â€œtraditionalâ€ ingredient (think Tamaraw milk boiled down to condensed status), and the use of it also means our technique is to do the â€œshortcutâ€ versionâ€¦ Nitpicking, I know, but youâ€™d think some real thought would go into picking a recipe winner in a national broadsheet and one of the top news websites in the world. How much trust are readers going to have in a paper that is that loose about its articles??? Second, the name “yema balls” is overdoing itâ€¦ kind of like saying “testicle gonads” or “ball testicles” or “itlog balls” as yema literally means egg yolk and is also meant to evoke the shape (ball-like or yolk-like) of the confection itselfâ€¦
So now to the Inquirer. Did they or didnâ€™t they intentionally forget to mention the source of these photographs? The convenient and likely answer is that the writer didnâ€™t bother to inform them where he got the photos and they assumed they were his own property. Well, now that they know otherwiseâ€¦what are they going to do about it? Some serious mea culpa is necessary to make this right, I would think. If, however, the writer shows that he did inform the Inquirer of the sources but they chose not to attribute them, then they are technically the ones who have violated intellectual property laws, I suppose. Letâ€™s see what they say to this post and an email I will fire off to them as soon as I finish this post.
What can readers do for Marketman? I rarely ask for anything in return for publishing these daily posts on food, recipes, etc. I always encourage all to enjoy and to eat wellâ€¦ but now I need your help. If you are as incensed as I am about my photo being used without attribution, please send an email to the Inquirer asking them to identify who took the photo of the yema in yesterdayâ€™s article… The first email address below is to Ms. Chelo Banal-Formoso, the editor of the Lifestyle section, the other addresses are useful ones to copy your email to:
If I do not receive an adequate and appropriate response from both the author and the Inquirer I will consider pursuing legal action if only to set a precedent for other bloggers. Frankly, I would already doubt the sincerity of an apology or explanation from Mr. Ceniza as the article has been out for at least 24 hours and he could have easily emailed me to let me know that Marketmanila was not mentioned as the source of the photograph, and he was working to correct that, but he didn’t. This is a David and Goliath-like storyâ€¦ but I am amused that Goliath with his slew of writers, editors, research staff, chefs, etc. has to get his material for a once a week food section from David (who works by himself and publishes more frequently and takes no advertising)â€¦sad, reallyâ€¦ Now, for amusement, what punishment do Marketmanila readers think is appropriate for photo-nappers of this sort??? Please leave a comment, thanks…