asia · North Korea (DPRK) · Travel

Stealing Intellectual Property Isn’t Lawful or Moral…Unless You’re a News Outlet Cherrypicking Content From the Little Guys Like Me

My name is Matthew Workman, I am a Chemist by day, and by night when I’m not procrastinating on Reddit or watching Korean movies with my fiancee I like to write, I like to explore and photograph the world, and occasionally knuckle down to create small photojournalistic pieces for a somewhat small audience to read.  I blog because I enjoy writing and photography, I think it’s a healthy outlet and gives me a platform to showcase the work I create – I’m sure many of you understand this feeling; the feeling of gratification you gain from knowing that someone out there appreciates what you do.

It’s a dream of mine to earn a living through writing and photography, something I often see as nothing more than a pipe-dream.  Occasionally somebody does notice your work and unfortunately if they are big enough they don’t ask, they just take, the advertising revenue rolls in for them and you are left with nothing more than a feeling of contempt and sadness.

Back in 2013, I was living in Shanghai, I posted a photograph on Reddit showing how bad the air pollution had got to on that day, I spent days speaking to people about the situation online, the thread blew up and it hit the front page.  It wasn’t long before I saw my photograph on an article from the Huffington Post, this one photograph of mine sparked a butterfly effect of photographs emerging on the internet of air pollution, and with it the news outlets latched on.  That photograph has received 900,000 views – I contacted the Huffington Post, they didn’t even credit me for taking the photograph, they didn’t provide any sort of financial compensation nor would they remove the image.  To this day, the image remains on that article and I haven’t received a penny.

If you are new to this blog you may not have seen my ten-part series about my journey into North Korea.  Back in 2014 I travelled to North Hamgyong province in the DPRK, when I returned home I gathered my notes, edited my photographs and began writing about the whole experience.  You can find all of these parts here: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6 , Part 7Part 8Part 9 and Part 10.  Yesterday I stumbled upon this article from the Daily Star online – basically northing more than a crude mashup on my photographs, quotes from myself taken somewhat out of context and a photograph of my fiancee and me claiming that we visited North Korea together, which we didn’t, I’m not too sure where they even got the photograph of us from as it certainly wasn’t included in any of my DPRK posts, they must have gotten it from Instagram or another travel post.

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Again, here is the link to ‘their’ article.  When I started writing this ten-part series I didn’t think weeks of work would end up plastered on the Daily Star website with a few sentences of their own thrown in – which it would seem suddenly makes it their property to use.

Of course, all of this is completely moral and legal because they have mentioned my name and provided a link to my blog and Instagram.  As a result I have received compensation in the form of exposure, and as any photographer, designer, writer or artist knows, exposure is the most valued form of currency in the world.

If you’re looking for a builder to construct you a house but you don’t quite have the bank balance to support such a venture, fear not.  Allow the builder to erect your new house and hang a sign outside saying ‘*builder’s name* constructed this property’ and he will accept this is form of payment.

I am actually irate at the level that this ‘theft’ occurs around the world, it is the unrelenting attitude of news corporations that they are above the law and above the rules of common decency.  I am not exaggerating when I say that it took me weeks of work to construct this series, not to mention the cost of travel, cost of equipment and the simple fact that it is my bloody work!  Somebody at this newspaper is being paid to copy and paste my work and I am sat here with nothing to show for it, but oh “you have exposure” they’ll say, okay thanks buddy, why don’t you take that exposure and I’ll take the money.

I have contacted the newspaper, I imaging they won’t even respond.  I have done things in the past for no charge, such as colourise a black and white photograph of Winston Churchill for book ‘Churchill’s Trial‘ by Larry P. Arnn.  I did this because the guy who was putting the book design together contacted me and asked me politely if he could use my photograph, I obliged as he said he would make sure I was credited in the book and I thought it would be pretty cool to have my name immortalised even in such a small way.  This is the correct way to go about these kind of things, not blatantly stealing the work of others without any form of consent.  Posting my work without prior consent, posting photographs if my and my partner for the world to see, posting false information and doing all of this in an article of a sensitive nature in rocky political times.

So thank you Daily Star, thanks for taking my work, thanks for jumbling it up and adding you own ‘flair’ to it, thankyou for disclosing information about me, thankyou for taking photographs from my Instagram of me and my partner and posting them on your website and thankyou for offering no financial compensation for the work you have taken.

This is not journalism, the people who took this work are not journalists just people with the ability to copy and paste.

What a fucking world we live in.  Goodnight. #myworkmymoney






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