Côte d'Ivoire: Uproar Over Unauthorized Press Use of Blogger's Photos

Christmas 2011 in Côte d'Ivoire was different from those of previous years. Eight months after the change of regime, the authorities wanted to mark it with completely new decorations in the country and by organizing huge fireworks displays [fr] on December 30-31, 2011.

A great many Ivorians went out to take advantage of these various spectacles and the supporting technology, and everyone left with souvenir photos. If it was a good experience for these amateur photographers, that was not the case for Audrey Carlalie [fr]. This young Ivorian student, a professional part-time photographer, saw her photos of the fireworks display published by certain Ivorian newspapers and even the largest online Ivorian information portal – without her permission.

She did not hesitate to complain on her Facebook page, and soon the blogs and other social networks had picked up the buzz.

The Ivorian blogger Edith Brou sets the scene in her blog [fr] and explains:

En effet, les quotidiens ivoiriens tel que le Jour plus, le Nouveau Réveil, Nord-Sud, l’Intelligent d’Abidjan et même le portail Internet historique Abidjan.net, n’ont pas hésité à publier ses photos alors que la moindre des considérations aurait été de lui envoyer un message privé sur Facebook ou Twitter (elle y est toujours connectée) afin d’avoir sa permission.

In fact, Ivorian dailies such as le Jour plus, le Nouveau Réveil, Nord-Sud, l’Intelligent d’Abidjan and even the historic Internet portal Abidjan.net, did not hesitate to publish her photos, while the least of considerations would have been to send her a private message on Facebook or Twitter (she is always connected) to obtain her permission.

As soon as Edith Brou's post was released, the Ivorian blogosphere relayed the affair, like Yoyo [fr], another blogger who backs Ivorian journalists in their fight for recognition and respect for their work:

Depuis hier, la déception se lit dans de nombreux commentaires au sujet des journalistes de la presse écrite ivoirienne. Ces professionnels, qui crient au scandale à la moindre atteinte à leur profession, n'hésitent visiblement pas à jouer de raccourcis pour s'accaparer d'une manière bien moins honorable le travail d'autrui.

Since yesterday, the disappointment can be read in many comments regarding journalists of the Ivorian written press. These professionals, who scream their outrage at the smallest trespass into their profession, apparently do not hesitate to take shortcuts in order to secure the work of others in a much less honorable manner.

In this same vein, the keyword #Carlaliegate was created on Twitter to discuss the topic, and the reactions are proliferating.

Screen shot of reactions to #Carlaliegate on Twitter

Screen shot of reactions to #Carlaliegate on Twitter

What is intriguing about the affair is that the incriminated newspapers have not dared to apologize. The worst of these newspapers is L'intelligent d'Abidjan [fr], which defends itself as follows:

le vendredi (30 décembre 2011) l'IA (Intelligent d’Abidjan) avait des photographes au palais de la culture. Ils n'avaient pas de connexion a cote et il leur fallait traverser le pont pour arriver au bureau. Le maquettiste est alors aller fouiner sur facebook et a trouve cette photo. Desole de n'avoir pas cite l'auteur mais l'image etant dans le domaine public et n'ayant pas ete fait a but lucratif, que faut il payer? Desole de n'avoir pas cite l'auteur de la photo. Nous le ferons prochainement et trouveront les moyens de rendre plus opérationnels nos photographes.

Friday (December 30, 2011) The IA (Intelligent d'Abidjan) had photographers at the Palais de la Culture. They had no transportation and had to cross the bridge to get to the office. The layout artist then went digging on Facebook and found this photo. We are sorry that we did not cite the author, but since the image was in the public domain and was not made for profit, why should we pay? We are sorry that we did not cite the author. We will do so shortly and find the means to better enable our photographers to do their work.

For Stephane Kouakou, another active Ivorian Internet user, this situation adds to the bad press [fr] that Ivorian journalists seem determined to continue cultivating:

Comme je l’ai déjà souligné dans un de mes articles « Mauvaise presse », la presse en Côte d’ivoire a de bien mauvaises pratiques qui lui font déjà perdre des acheteur-lecteurs. Elle vient d’ajouter une autre corde à son arc qui lui fait perdre un peu plus de la crédibilité qu’elle n’avait pas.

As I have already pointed out in my “Bad press” articles, the Ivorian press has many bad practices which are already causing it to lose paying readers. It has now added another feather to its cap, making it lose a little more of the credibility that it did not even have.

Currently, the buzz on the web continues and actions are underway, as Yehni Djidji notes in her post [fr] on the subject:

Abidjan.net a purement et simplement retiré les photos de son site.
L'intelligent d'Abidjan a proposé la compensation suivante: reprise de la photo avec son nom, à l'intérieur du journal mais pas en première page, une collaboration pour que les photos soient rémunérées, l'envoi pendant UN MOIS, de la version PDF du journal, à Carlalie. Avant cela, ce journal a fait plusieurs interventions sur le net qui méritent d'être décortiqué, sans doute dans un autre article.
Carlalie, qui a fait appels à des conseillers juridiques ne peut plus s'exprimer sur le sujet, mais la dernière fois que je l'ai eu, les autres organes de presse n'avaient pas réagi à ses tentatives de communication.

Abidjan.net has simply removed the photos from its site.
L'intelligent d'Abidjan has proposed the following compensation: re-posting of the photo with her name (inside the newspaper but not on the first page), a collaboration agreement so that the photos will be paid for, and a PDF version of the newspaper to be sent to Carlalie within ONE MONTH. Before that, this same newspaper tried several other tactics on the net that deserve to be dissected, doubtless in another article.

Carlalie, who has sought the counsel of legal advisors, can no longer speak on the subject, but the last time that I spoke with her, the other press organizations had not responded to her attempts at communication.

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