The Star Online used my photo without permission and without payment

I was quite surprised to see one of my photos being used in a feature video of the headlining exclusive on The Star Online today.

The Star Online Screenshot
Screenshot taken from “Killed by heat, not drugs” on The Star Online

This photo was taken by me and published on my blog 25th July 2003 and clearly has my “sixthseal.com” watermark intentionally obscured. This is the original image:

White MX Ecstasy pill

It came from the blog post “Ecstasy pill reports: Yellow Tp and White mx (Melbourne)“.

This has happened a lot of times before (with other newspapers) and I’m going to email the writer to send them my rates, based on the National Union of Journalists. I’m outraged that the photo had been used in a way that made my watermark moot. There is a clear text overlay stating “FILE” or “(Date of publication)” in all other photos used in the video.

My photo was used in the video for almost 5 seconds (from 2:00 to 2:04) without my permission by The Star, who should know better.

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18 thoughts on “The Star Online used my photo without permission and without payment

  1. I’ve had this happened to me before too…my posts appearing on their websites (not newspapers lah) without my permission (at least they didn’t remove my watermark and provided a link back to my blog). I didn’t know you can ask for payment for something like this (wouldn’t know the rate to ask anyway)…and will they actually pay (or they’ll just remove the post/picture)? I used to think that they were actually doing us a service (by publishing our posts) so that we get more traffic into our blogs. I’m new to this so I don’t know the rules (plus I’ve always viewed my blog as just a hobby). Although someone did contact me to ask for a condensed version of my existing restaurant reviews for a mobile app that they will be launching soon (and this I will get paid, of course, at whatever rate they proposed…coz I don’t even know what the market rates are).

    But, since yours is The Star (and they should know better), I hope you get paid what you deserve (do keep us informed of the outcome).

  2. This happened to me too, my photo was published on Free Malaysia Today. In the past, my photos also published in local magazines. I’m not sure what to do about it.

  3. It’s a shame (and a crime) what the Star did, but the issue is not new. Hope you get this resolved. The Star is the biggest online paper in Malaysia. They should be able to compensate you (or even better, get their own photographers to take photos!)

  4. Lots of cases like this lately. Coming from a reputable agency is really terrible. They should know better and shouldn’t be doing such thing.

  5. Thanks for the comments and support everyone!

    This is still pending. I have gotten a letter from The Star’s law firm (external) and it’s a form letter basically saying they’re going to read my original email and let me know after discussing with The Star’s management.

    I’m still waiting, and will give them till the end of this week.

  6. Yeah, I was shocked when I saw that photo too. I didn’t expect it from The Star but in hindsight I should have known better.

    I think they thought I wouldn’t dare to file a lawsuit since it’s a photo of an MDMA pill.

    However, this was actually for a mid-semester grading (did a course on Drugs & Alcohol in Monash University Clayton campus in Melbourne – it was my last semester and last year in uni) and I had secured all Australian research permits before I did my tests with the Marquis reagents etc (which is a harm-reduction angle, testing pills to see what they contain).

    This is totally legal and I got in touch with my lecturer for this course and he’s willing to verify that. I also have academic records to prove that this was for course-work and the appropriate Australian legal permits have been secured and this photo’s copyright belongs to me and me alone.

    I still haven’t heard from The Star in regards to this.

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