Saturday, January 03, 2009

Daily Times' Unethical Re-Publication Policy

Every time I read a Daily Times article under the banner of "Daily Times Monitor," I instantly become suspicious. Perhaps this is unfair, but the newspaper does have a habit of participating in some rather questionable policies when it comes to the reproduction of third party newspaper articles as evidenced by our earlier posts on the topic which can be viewed here, here and here.

Today's Daily Times has an article under the title of "Pakistan drives Taliban into trap." The first paragraph reads:

"LAHORE: Afghanistan and Pakistan’s ongoing military offensive in the Tribal Areas is chasing Taliban across the border, where they are being intercepted by a United States-Afghan security initiative, a US commander said, according to a report in The Washington Times on Friday."

I located the Washington Times article which is titled "Pakistan drives militants into trap" and the first paragraph of this article reads:

JALALABAD, Afghanistan| Pakistan's ongoing military offensive in its northwest tribal areas is chasing insurgents across the border, where they are being intercepted by a U.S.-Afghan security initiative, a U.S. commander says.

Notice the subtle differences starting from the title.

For the next seven paragraphs, the Daily Times reproduces the Washington Times article in the exact order, with minor changes such as "militants" becoming "terrorists" in paragraph 3.

But then things start getting interesting as the Daily Times arbitrarily starts leaving out whole passages from the original article. The omissions in full are listed at the end of this post.

It has always been my suspicion that the Daily Times does not license these articles from the parent publications, and imagines that using the Daily Times Monitor moniker somehow allows it to get around Copyright law. It doesn't. The only fair use of the article would be for the Daily Times to refer to the Washington Times article without reprinting the content, which is the practice adopted my most newspapers.

The Washington Times makes things easier for us by listing an online link to its syndication service. Unfortunately this site does not list the charges for daily or weekly newspapers, however, what it does provide us with, is a copy of the Terms of Use Content License Agreement.

So let's assume that the Daily Times legally purchased the article from Washington Times, it would then be bound by a similar Terms of Use Content License Agreement. The Agreement clearly states that:

You shall not modify, edit, change or alter in any manner the Content, or create any derivative works therefrom, including translation of the Content.

Well, the Daily Times did modify the content and that too pretty substantially. This leads me to believe that even if they did purchase the article (which I HIGHLY doubt) they violated the License Agreement.

Now let's assume that the Daily Times sought prior consent from the Washington Times regarding the changes and omissions to the article. It still doesn't clear the Daily Times.

The Daily Times fails to mention the name of the writer Jason Motlagh, and the contributor Sara A. Carter. The original piece was not from a wire piece, it was a news paper article and it is the moral right of the writer to be attributed whenever and where ever the article is published. This right is enshrined in the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, of which Pakistan is a signatory and therefore Daily Times act of not attributing the article to its author is a direct violation of the law.

The Daily Times is a visible national newspaper, headed by a respected editor and bank rolled by a rich and famous businessman and politician. Surely, they can spend a few thousand dollars in legally purchasing content, especially if they are incapable with coming up with content of their own. Worst of all, even when they steal they manage to screw up the simple task of reproducing - notice the mention of Afghanistan and Pakistan in the opening paragraph of the article. Imbeciles.

List of Omissions:
  • Pakistan has faced mounting U.S. pressure to reassert control over its Federally Administered Tribal Areas, which have long served as a sanctuary for Afghan Taliban and al Qaeda.

    Since August, the Pakistan Army and Frontier Corps have waged a grinding offensive in Bajaur Agency, a lawless region about half the size of Rhode Island that is suspected to be a hide-out for al Qaeda's No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahri.

  • Several areas in Bajaur have been subject to "cordon-search and clearance operations,"[Nadeem Kiani, Pakistan Embassy spokesman in Washington] said. The "Bajaur operation is progressing well regardless of [the] gathering threat on our eastern borders or harsh winter weather."

  • Bajaur is adjacent to Kunar province, currently the most violent in Afghanistan.

    A host of insurgent groups, led by the Hezb-e-Islami of former Afghan mujahedeen chief Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, are operating in the region. He was a CIA-funded proxy during the war against the Soviets in the 1980s.

    Fighting in Kunar has been concentrated in the Korengal Valley. In July, nine U.S. soldiers were killed and a base was almost overrun in nearby Wanat village, the biggest single loss of American life to date. The 2008 U.S. death toll of U.S. troops in Afghanistan was 151, the highest since the war began in 2001.

  • Several bridges and a paved road are to be built along the Kunar river to better integrate the area, and an additional 400 Afghan border police are to be trained and equipped.

    The arrival of hundreds of reinforcements from the 10th Mountain Division will make this easier, Col. Spiszer said, enabling him to monitor stretches of border where insurgents still regularly cross over from Bajaur.

    "Now I can't stop everybody from getting in, but hundreds more U.S. and Afghan forces is going to make a big difference," he said.


Saadia said...

I'm quite shocked. Do you think plagiarism is a paper-wide problem for Daily Times, or is someone in particular getting through with it? Is there a common author/correspondent in all such instances?

Tazeen said...

Daily Times is guilty of a lot of other stuff.

I used to work on the international desk of Dawn and the newspaper had agreement with Washington Post, LA Times, Guardian and a few other news papers to reproduce stuff. But even then, we used to modify or shorten the articles quite freely. In fact, the first brief i was given by my supervisor was on how do I neutralize pro Israel articles. If they called Intefada a terrorist movement, we would change it to quest for freedom or something similar. This is pretty common and they know it as well.

karachi khatmal said...

i'll go with tazeen on this one. its a problem with the media in general. for example, in the tv channels, there are a lot of rules about what footage you may or may not use. for example, if rueters sends footage from express regarding a particular event, then no other channel in pakistan can air it. of course what the channels do is blur the logos and what not. which is why during the balochistan quake you saw visuals on express carry a watermark on them. which looks horrid. but thats how it seems to be.

ps super investigative work. sometimes i fear your energies are being wasted, but then again most days i can think of no better use of them.

AKS said...

@ Saadia

It's hard to tell. There is no way of finding out who is responsible for the Daily Times Monitor. It is clear that the editorial board should be held responsible.

@ Tazeen

They may be guilty of other stuff but they're still guilt of some questionable republication policies. Putting aside the issue of republication foreign articles, if you check the links I've posted in the first paragraph you'll find out that in one sports article Daily Times contributor / reporter Muhammad Ali lifted entire bits from Anand Vaisu's Cricinfo article, without accreditation; the second instance involves the publication, without permission or accreditation, of photographs taken by a Pakistani photographer Fayyaz Ahmed which had been posted on his Flickr page.

Coming back to the syndication business. Dawn always makes it a point to credit the newspaper and the author. As for Dawn changing the content, if they're doing so without permission that too would be unlawful, especially as the changes you mention - "neutralizing pro Israeli articles" - can change the tone of a story.

@ Karachi Khatmal

It's funny you mentioned the Express watermark, I noticed it yesterday during their live coverage of the Dera Ismail Khan suicide attack.

You're absolutely right in raising the point that it's a problem with the media in general. And it's not like they don't know it's wrong, these otherwise self appointed upholders of morality and virtue, do so knowing that they are acting unethically but they just don't give a fuck; worst of all, their editors seem to be either stupid or complicit in the act.

@ Maxcom Users

Maxcom users have been unable to access new posts on the blog since December 21st. I've spoken with Maxcom (best support staff in Pakistan) and they informed me that the problem is not on their end but lies with their service provider and they're trying to rectify it (plus the problmes with the underground cables has still not been resolved). But he said that in the mean time, maxcom users can access the blog by going through the following website:

Zak said...

Isn't that a reflection of Pakistan's general lack of respect for intellectual copyright?

I did up wikipedias article on Abdul Wali Khan after his death..I was shocked a few weeks later to see smaller papers and sites in NWFP quoting my stuff ad verbatim

I suppose i should be flattered but there was that other time when a relationof another politician in pak started complained about papers using some wrong info theyd cut and pasted from my wiki stuff!

Momekh said...

After sending in a letter, Daily Times not only 'edited' it as it is normal, they actually went ahead and changed the whole damn context of the letter. No typos, but actual lines were added that made the letter in favor of Mugabe (Zimbabwean ruler) instead of the letter's original intent.

I have been a subscriber of DT for a whole year... I have yet to find such biased writings in PK media as of yet. Although they are not as bad, but I call DT the Fox News of Pakistan.

Sikander Hayat said...

To read more about developments in Pakistan and areas around it, please go to