India Uncut

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Saturday, November 26, 2005

Mistake? Yes, ok. Apology? No

The Indian Express has carried a "clarification" today with regard to what they had done yesterday. The clarification, which I couldn't find online, states:
Some of the comments carried yesterday were sent to us by Manjunathan's IIM batchmates. These comments were originally posted on a blog. All of today's letters come directly to The Indian Express. If you want to share your thoughts with us ... [their email id, etc]
This is a poor explanation. Firstly, the wording might make it appear that the people whose words were stolen, including me and Rashmi Bansal, were Manjunathan's batchmates, and we sent our stuff to them, both of which are untrue.

Secondly, consider this: if I send them a link that leads to an editorial in the Telegraph about Manjunathan, and they lift the content there and later claim that that it was sent to them by "Manjunathan's IIM batchmates," that explanation clearly won't hold. Well, the same copyright protection that applies to the Telegraph applies to Rashmi's blog. (For more, do read my post, "Copyright and the internet.")

In any case, one could excuse it as a mistake in good faith if an apology accompanied the clarification. No such apology does. Ethically, they owe an apology to:

a] Indian Express readers, who were lied to about the origin of this content.

b] To all the people, including Rashmi and me, whose editorial content was used without their permission, and in contravention of fair-use conventions. (Click here and go to point 4 for more.)

DNA, the Mumbai paper, gracefully issued such an apology when they were implicated in a similar case recently, and enhanced their credibility in the process. It is a shame that despite its talk of journalistic integrity, the Indian Express hasn't yet apologised for its obvious mistakes.

Cross-posted on We The Media.
amit varma, 10:22 AM| write to me | permalink | homepage

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