The News-Star violated copyright law on photos

Editors at The Gramblinite were shocked to see some of their photo editor’s pictures on CNN. The photos showed a child with her head in a noose, but that was not what drew the attention of the editors.What shocked them was the fact that The (Monroe) News-Star was given credit for the photos.
The Gramblinite had to reconstruct a chain of events that began Friday in order to unravel how Terrance Stokes’ work was used by national news media without The Gramblinite’s permission.

On Friday morning, The Ruston Daily Leader asked permission to use photos that were published on The Gramblinite’s of the Alma J. Brown Elementary rally in support of the Jena Six on Sept. 20 and was sent three photos.

Around 2:45 p.m., the photos were pulled from The Gramblinite Web site, www.thegramblinite.com. Earlier that Friday morning, The Daily Leader was e-mailed three photos they could use and was never e-mailed the photographs of the student with the noose around her neck.

In the Sept. 30 issue of The Daily Leader, an editor’s note says the “noose photos” were not published because of their graphic nature and to protect the identities of the children involved.

“I called The Ruston Leader and asked them not to publish the photos,” said Joice M. Dunn, university editor for The Gramblinite.

Dunn said The Ruston Leader agreed to the terms.

Rick Hohlt, the publisher of The Daily Leader, said an e-mail was sent to Ken Stickney, managing editor of The (Monroe) News-Star with the noose photos attached at around 4 p.m. ” I sent the photos to Ken to let him know that the noose incident occurred,” Hohlt said.

Kathy Spurlock, executive editor of The News-Star, said they attempted to contact The Gramblinite, without success. “We made the decision to use the photograph because of the compelling nature of the story.”

Gramblinite photo editor Stokes said, “I was outraged and disappointed that they (The News-Star) didn’t ask for permission.

“Not only that, they never gave me credit for my hard work,” he said.

Spurlock said when she checked the U.S. Copyright Office, The Gramblinite wasn’t registered with the copyright office.

But Adam Goldstein, attorney advocate for the Student Press Law Center, said that does not matter.

“You only need to register a copyright if you’re going to sue and you would have six months to sue from the day of the infringement,” he said.

According to the campus newspaper’s contract with MTV Networks, the parent company of College Publisher, which powers the Web site, everything on The Gramblinite site is copyrighted. “The newspaper shall retain all rights in, and any and all liabilities attributable to, the Material uploaded to the Company’s servers,” the contract states.

“The Ruston Daily Leader e-mailed the photos to us, and we had no idea that they were Gramblinite photos,” Spurlock said.

However, Hohlt sent The Gramblinite the original e-mail that he sent to The News-Star at 4:07 p.m. on Sept. 28. “These are the pic’s that were on The Gramblinite Web site until 3:45 Friday afternoon,” Hohlt’s e-mail read.

“They knew those were photos taken by The Gramblinite. . In no way, implied or otherwise, did I give The News-Star permission to publish the photographs below,” a Hohlt e-mail informed The Gramblinite Wednesday.

Spurlock said she was not at work Friday and was advised of the information they had. She went on to say that, “We were told that it was a Gramblinite photo, but we did see the photo on the Web site ourselves.”

She says they decided to run the photograph as a submitted photo because there was no proof that the photo belonged to The Gramblinite.

Goldstein says copyright is more about having the permission to publish someone’s work.

According to U.S. Copyright, a transfer of copyright ownership, other than by operation of law, is not valid unless an instrument of conveyance, or a note or memorandum of the transfer, is in writing and signed by the owner of the rights conveyed or such owner’s duly authorized agent.

Nonetheless, Goldstein says the penalties are up to $150,000 per copyright infringement. “You can always get actual damages even without a copyright registration,” he said.

Stokes said, “It’s not fair that we are taught about copyright laws in the classroom and some professionals don’t practice them in the mainstream media.