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Lazy journalism – A price worth paying? 

Dan Desborough much copied picture






When you cover a story for The Looker, it sometimes may not get published in the paper for a few weeks. Being a bi weekly publication, an event can happen so close to deadline day that it is almost impossible to squeeze it in before it goes to print. However, we always post a story immediately on the Looker news website as soon it breaks.

In the last edition, our lead story was about the fiasco of the New Romney Town Council meeting, where instead of just accepting the letter of resignation from Briony Kapoor, the Mayor and town Clerk decided it would be more productive to call the police.

Now, I like to keep up with the competition and was reading a recent Kent Messenger newspaper when I saw they had this story as one of their main articles. Reading it, I suddenly felt a feeling of déjà vu. I was reading my very own words! Complete with exclusive quotes provided to us by Ms Kapoor. The KM had pretty much copied and pasted my article into their publication.

Should we be paying for this sort of lazy journalism? Couldn’t the KM have sent their own reporter to cover events that happen here on the Marsh? I did think about sending an invoice in for expenses, but then thought if the paper cannot afford to send a reporter down to the Marsh they won’t be able to afford to pay me!

This is not a new problem, and I freely admit, I sometimes get information from other newspaper websites, but at least I take the time to rewrite the story and get some original quotes of my own. The Folkestone Herald is also guilty of this, as they have struggled to cover the Marsh for years.

Dan Desborough’s Much copied stunning picture, stolen by a number of local and national publications and broadcast media.

However, it is not just stories that are being stolen; when Folkestone based professional photographer Dan Desborough took the amazing picture of a lightning strike, it appeared without his permission in both the Folkestone Heard and also The Sun Newspaper along with being used by the BBC. Several people copied the picture and passed it off as their own.

Again, the Folkestone Herald or Kent Live as they are now known used a number of pictures – without permission – from our website after the accident on the Romney Hythe and Dymchurch Railway. The same pictures where then used by The Sun and the Daily Mail after being sold by a picture agency. Which when we contacted the agency they claimed it was sold to them by a Kent based Newspaper, but refused to name which one. The Daily Mirror, to their credit, actually sort permission and purchased a picture from us.

Perhaps the moral to this story is that as soon as you put anything online, it is very hard to control what happens to it. It has been claimed that once posted on Google, Facebook or Twitter, you give up copy write on it, as it is in the public domain.

We contacted a copy write lawyer for clarification, who told us: “Under Facebook’s current terms (which can change at anytime), by posting your pictures and videos, you grant Facebook ‘a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any  content that you post on or in connection with Facebook . This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.  Beware of the words “transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license.”  This means that Facebook can license your content to others for free without obtaining any other approval from you!  You should be aware that once your photos or videos are shared on Facebook, it could be impossible to delete them from Facebook, even if you delete the content or cancel your account (the content still remains on Facebook servers and they can keep backups)!  So, although you may be able to withdraw your consent to the use of photos on Facebook, you should also keep in mind that if you share your photos and videos with Facebook applications, those applications may have their own terms and conditions of how they use your creation!  You should read the fine print to make sure you are not agreeing to something that you don’t want to have happen.

The Looker always tries its hardest to be at the forefront of breaking news and delivering the very latest in factual and local reporting.