BBC Munchy Box infringement

Update 2010-02-10: The BBC once again prove their decency. They have clarified that the images and text were sent in by a viewer and were taken on good faith, an unfortunately easy thing to do these days and they’ve decided to honour my requests. All in all, I’m impressed with their reaction as they could have swatted me aside like a fly as I’m small-fry compared to their might, but they didn’t. So, go join the Facebook Save BBC 6Music group. Why couldn’t this happen with someone I disliked?

Original article follows:

I love the BBC, I really do. I think the licence fee is a worthy and valid charge as it distances the programming from commercial concerns, allowing for such wonderful programmes as Planet Earth and Life. However, I don’t like it when the BBC wastes portions of their funds on such useless things as covering fines for stupidity and … um, paying me.

Used for review purposes. Besides, it's mostly mine!

Yes, that’s my Munchy Box photo and even the text has been wrenched from the pages of this very blog. I know Radio 6 is my favourite radio station, but that doesn’t excuse their nicking two of my photos and plagiarising my bloody blog, does it.

The irony of this was that I’d recently commented on the Technical Fault blog shortly after the BBC used one of his photos by mistake. The difference is that they’ve not only lifted two photos, but they’ve also copied a part of the text verbatim. This isn’t accidental plagiarism, this is deliberate.

Now, when the Daily Record made the same mistake, reprinting the exact same photo, I was able to get their picture desk to cough up.

Used for review purposes, again. © David Boylan

Hopefully, the BBC will do the right thing. However, what’s astounding is that companies like the BBC and the Daily Record can be so aggressively anti-copyright infringement with one hand and so lax in their application of the rights of others. It’s not the first time that a large publishing company has misappropriated someone else’s copyright, and I doubt it will be the last, but seriously, the BBC should know better. It’s not like they don’t know about this stuff, as I remember them phoning me, asking if one of my photos could be used for their Big Picture section, and, because it was the BBC, I was more than willing to provide them with any info they wanted. It’s an honour and a privilege when anyone of the photos you submit is used in their pictorials, and that’s what makes it hard when they run roughshod over your rights. Would I have allowed them to reproduce these photos if they’d have asked? That’s a different question, but they didn’t ask. I’ve emailed them, and the sports metaphor is now in their court. I’ll keep you updated.

One thing that we amateur photographers don’t know is how much to invoice for misuse. What’s realistic and what’s just taking the piss? When will they pay and when will they say “sue us then”? The Daily Record paid £150 for their unauthorised use, but that’s only after I haggled them up from the £75 they offered.

Update 2010-02-01: The BBC have been in touch to say they’re looking into it and the page has been pulled.

Jared Earle is a writer, photographer and systems administrator. You can find him on Twitter most of the time.