MTV – master at plagiarizing, 2010

Is it a matter of pride or a case of plagiarism – this was exact thought that came to my mind when on 18th august morning I saw my ‘Independent India’ image in MTV’s latest National Anthem video on Television.

Original MTV -jana gana mana video

After photo plagiarism case MTV India deleted previous videos, edited & uploaded new video You can easily see the difference- so many images including mine was stolen by MTV.

I tweeted to MTV India and @MTVindia replied saying they are asking their production team & till then I stay a happy bunny!

STRANGE, I never got a response back after that. Instead, they deleted the tweet response, videos from MTV India website and their your tube links etc within in an hour. And 3 days later, I now see a new video, which does not have many images (including mine, which means other photos were also picked up without permission) – and the same video is on the Television and the Internet.

I kept writing to MTV on twitter and also I wrote an email to Viacom 18 COO, Rajesh Kamat  (Viacom 18 channels are Colors, MTV etc). But I didn’t get any reply.

People at Twitter / Facebook started suggesting me to send a legal letter to MTV for the same or talk to someone from media but when I tried contacting media like IBN (which is part of network 18), I didn’t get a reply.

The only option in front of me seems to be taking a legal route. In a country like ours, it is however a lengthy method to ask for credit and compensation by going to the court. However, I am tempted to do that not because of the wants for credit but also to spread awareness amongst other people of the illegal and unethical doings of these large companies. This photo steal case is 2nd for me, but there have been umpteen other cases like this which have happened with my photographer friends.

Through this blog, if there is one thing I want to do – it is to spread awareness amongst such media companies and their employees who routinely pick up pictures and content from internet without realizing that not only is it unethical but against the law as well. Perhaps it is their supervisor / seniors who don’t tell them about these basic work ethics!

When MTV India, a youth music channel, picked up my image and few more images to use in the national anthem ‘jana gana mana’ video, they probably searched for ‘india independence day’ or something similar and selected few good images and used in videos for which they spent few thousand dollars. This was all done and televised on TV without realizing that they had done a grave mistake of using images for which they did not have the copyrights.

Another bad ethical practice by MTV was them initially replying to me on twitter without understanding the consequences, where they later deleted video from website and Youtube and also deleted the tweet. They did not do the basic thing that they should have had done at the earliest was to handle this case of plagiarism in a mature way by immediately apologizing. Given what it was used for, I would have given my image for free but what eventually happened gave me a sad impression about MTV and seniors.

For saving few thousand rupees, MTV will carry a stamp of ‘pursuer of plagiarism’. They could have easily handled this more gracefully, but they ended up spoiling it and become the bad icon of the year!

I am hurt not because my ‘ Independent India ’  got stolen by MTV but for the shameful act of they trying to remove the traces of their wrong doings from the Internet. Poor MTV, you just become ‘plagiarizing icon of year, 2010!

18 thoughts on “MTV – master at plagiarizing, 2010

  1. Anyone would have given their images free for the cause. But MTV does not realise this about people. They live in a relentless commercial world. Their attitude comes from their own way of doing business — which is, “Why should we give anything free to anyone?” As a company MTV does not believe in doing anything that is non-commercial (the nationalistic messages they put out on Independence Day etc is eyewash). As a business they have no compassion, as people they think they are the rock stars! Why don’t you write to Sandeep Dahiya, Senior Vice President (Consumer Products & Communications), Viacom18 – he is one of those rare people who is understanding. Hopefully, he will have the courage to acknowledge the goof, give credit where credit is due and get on with life.

  2. I think MTV wanted that you thank them for using your picture. I don’t know but it seems that big brands consider themeselves above others so much so that they don’t consider other people works to be of any worth.

    But what I find strange is that other media companies are not doing anything about that. If the thing is that they strike a deal with MTV for not publishing the story, then MTV would be shelling out more bucks that what would have been required for compensating the photographers whose pictures have been used. The easiest route that MTV could have taken is call you, apologise and add credits at the end of the video. That way they would also be promoting other photographers’ work which would have been a good thing to do.

  3. Sad, but its not MTV who actually produce these videos. They are produced by random content providers, so called creative agencies. There is a lot of confusion in their heads too regarding copyrights. They simply feel anything on Google Image search is free for fair use, this was fair use. But that by no means imply that they can simply lift pics, they shud have at least written to you seeking usage permission.

    It will be time before someone takes the proper legal route to nail this matter at the root once and for all, its not gonna be easy but somebody someday will have to do it.

  4. Pathetic…In what could have been gracefully handled by such a large media house, they just did the unexpected, or rather expected.
    I guess your blog post will do the effect. Again, taking the legal route will show the not-so-hidden true colours of the Indian judiciary.
    But a great effort. And I loved your ‘Independent India’ depiction.
    Keep it up!
    All power to you!

  5. Would give Mtv a benefit of doubt that their creative agency’s goof up got missed by them as something any agency would hv taken care of. The suggestion to delete d tweet and replace videos must have come from the legal team. But hey, have they heard of wayback machine and online cache? 😉

  6. Pingback: MTV for Plagiarism now « Silent Expressions

  7. Devoid of basic ethical values.. They brag about being youth channel. What were they thinking while stealing images and creating a video showing lofty ideals…with that caption of ‘asli indian’.

    MTV folks : Bunch of losers!

    A medium capable of bringing about a huge change in the system is losing its meaning. Farce, pretence, money making, TRP, at any cost… is the name of the game for these channels.

    In this protest….I am with you Paavani.

  8. While its an absolute disgust that renowned brands like MTV, TOI, HT and so many others just feel free to pick up whatever they find on the internet… there is a partial responsibility of thes cases increasing on

    1. The websites we upload photographs on (flickr/facebook/blogs) Even if you do not allow a straight download to the PC, a screenshot way always works

    2. Search engines which scan for your photographs (I have disabled all my flickr photographs to come up in public searches from the settings in flickr)

    3. Ourselves : And please understand that I am talking about everyone who takes a picture and shares it! We need to be more careful with our best work!

    I hope you go ahead and take some legal action against these folks (Please try and write registered letters instead of sending emails… as emails do not account in the court of law as far as I know)

    Let me know if there is something that I can help you with.


  9. An apology would be a good beginning, but how could they just try to cover up by taking the video off the site?
    Hope this message of yours gets out, and forces them to learn copyright ethics.

  10. Pretty disappointing to hear the way MTV handled things. I think you should still pursue the legal way and make the owner and the publisher of the video responsible for the lack of ethics shown by them.
    Peope in the creative field are the last expected bunch to show up as plagiarist.
    I guess the whole “ghoom” thing has become the MTV DNA fabric of doing and looking at things. I guess next time you would inestimable some efforts to watermark yourshared content which is what I realized after couple of my snaps and content appeared on a site which claimed the work as theirs.

    Good luck.

  11. Well, I’m not surprised.
    MTV has been plagiarizing since forever!

    For more than a year it’s been copying tweets by people and putting them up on their Ticker without any credit.
    Sometimes, they shamelessly ask for tweets from users regarding the topics, and STILL put them on ticker without crediting the source.
    I’d suggest u take legal action.
    A lot of people, including me, have tweeted about these malpractices by MTV, and lot of people know about them too.
    But the channel won’t stop. Coz nobody has ever done anything about it

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