Sunday, December 18, 2005


Take a look at the following images and note the photo credits:

Majid/Getty Images - Published in The New York Times

Roozbeh Jadidolislam/Polaris/Deadline Photo Press - Syndicated Worldwide

Majid/Getty Images - Syndicated Worldwide by Getty

Hossein Fatemi/FARS News Agency - Syndicated for free in Iran

Hossein Fatemi/FARS News Agency - Syndicated for free in Iran

All of the above photos are essentially one image. However, there are 3 different names attached to it.

Who is the real photographer? Was this image stolen? Is this a common practice among Iranian press?

The Real Story
The image captures the pandemonium, rescue and the tragedy of a C-130 plane that crashed into a residential tower.

Reuters reported that over 116 people died in the crash. Among the dead were 68 journalists and media technicians, en route to cover military exercises in the Gulf from various news agencies.

I feel that the tragic loss of friends and colleagues is over shadowed by the lack of ethics shown by the Iranian press/photo community.

Fars News Agency, like other government sponsored news gathering organizations in Iran is underwritten by the Ministry of Ershad a branch of the government in charge of monitoring and controlling media in Iran.

Photographers who work for these news agencies (i.e. Fars, ISNA, ILNA) are sometimes given full access to events that are not always welcoming to foreign press.

Their photographers get paid a salary and the images are owned by the news organizations for distribution. The publications in Iran do not pay for the use of the images or the reports.

Some photographers hungry for worldwide recognition and a quick dollar sell the exact images to various stock and news agencies outside Iran.

Polaris in New York along with SIPA and Deadline in Europe are some of the agencies that syndicate their work. I believe that in some cases they do turn a blind eye to this issue.

One principal offender, Majid, who is a senior shooter with Fars also takes other people's work and sells it under his own name.

Majid also sells to Getty Images which supposed to be distributing exclusive pictures through their wire services.

I am not sure how to address this problem. One photographer blogger in Iran, Mohammad Kheirkhah is trying to address this issue from the inside.

Perhaps one cause and motivation is the lack of existing strong copyright regulations and disregard for international intellectual property laws.

The annual international book fair in Tehranattracts millions of people. Various trade show attendees openly promote and sell titles translated from English without permission from the rightful authors and/or the publishers.

Computer programing titles on sale in Tehran book Fair
document IRAN/Ramin Talaie -
April 2004

Iran is applying to join the World Trade Organization (WTO). A byproduct of the WTO membership is enforcing and supporting international copyrights and intellectual property laws.

WTO membership might be years away, but the way I see it, ethics among journalists should rise above it all.

This is a challenge for all Iranian journalists to understand and to face it head

Ramin Talaie
, New York

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