Incidentally, another letter I sent to SPH and Mediacorp Publishing on the same day, didn't get published.
This is an open letter to both SPH and Mediacorp Publishing regarding your stand on certain IP issues. I have learnt recently that SPH had pursued, without warnings, a few companies with regards to placing articles on their website, accusing them of copyright infringements. From what I understand, some of these articles are dated back to as far as 3 years ago, and they are also properly referenced and credited.
I am running a restaurant and café, and had upon hearing this, decided not go ahead and publish any articles scan, quotes and references to any of our media mentions at my company’s website. This is very disconcerting to me as the clipping of articles and reviews are a very common practice in the industry, but yet SPH is not issuing any warnings prior to acting upon what they deem as infringement on their properties. I wish to understand the stand that publishers take on the following:
1) Restaurants cutting up newspaper clippings and framing them up in their restaurants. What difference is this compared to putting them up on the websites?
2) Insurance and policy agents or any businesses that uses newspaper clippings in their sales pitch. Is that illegal too as they are using dated articles to do their sales and promotions?
3) When companies/events are covered by your publishing house, we do not sign any “release forms” to allow your firms to do so, usually verbal agreements only. Does it mean we have to pursue that to protect ourselves in future?
I understand that SPH has a right to pursue such actions, as these articles are your intellectual properties. However, isn’t it a tad unfair that you are not issuing warnings on such prevalent practice of your IP infringements before acting upon it? Just like piracy of music is a pervasive act but there are many who did it unknowingly initially. Why are there no action taken on SPH side to warn or educate before hitting upon businesses who might be doing this for years unknowingly?
Incidentally, I write a blog and one of my recent postings was quoted by Straits Times without being informed prior hand. This makes me ponder upon SPH’s own practice of respecting other people’s works. I hope MediaCorp publishing (or any other publishers) would also share their views and stand on this issue so as to warn those many businesses out there which might be infringing your IP unknowingly.
Mr Chai Yee-Wei