Are both of these pictures that of the same bird?
A Manila-based photographer certainly seems to think so. He's accusing Pos Malaysia of 'stealing' one of his photos and using it on a Malaysian postage stamp.
Romy Ocon says he is now seeking legal advice against Pos Malaysia after discovering one of his prized photos could have been used without his permission as part of the latest Visit Malaysia Year 2014 stamp collection.
“It seems somebody had stolen one of my photos of a Long-tailed Shrike (Lanius schach), then used it erroneously as a photo of a White-fronted Falconet in a stamp issued by Malaysia!”, Romy Ocon posted on a photographer's forum site, called Digital Photography Review.
Under the title, “My photo was stolen and used in a Malaysian Stamp?”, Romy detailed how he found out and compared his original photo against a montage of Pos Malaysia stamps released under the tourism campaign.
When we clicked on the link supposedly connecting to the Pos Malaysia Facebook page, we were told the “this content is currently unavailable”. Romy's complaint was also posted on a Fred Miranda forum, another online discussion board for photography.
On his forum entry, Romy claimed that not only has the photo been allegedly used without permission, but it was also incorrectly captioned.
He posted, “Whoever did this has committed two grave wrongs. One, stealing my photo and using it without permission and two, serious ignorance, as the White-fronted Falconet looks very different from a Long-tailed Shrike.”
Romy added, “I'm sure the Malaysian Government wouldn’t knowingly sanction this despicable act (which should be very embarrassing to them), and I hope they will investigate who did this and rectify the error. “
In an email interview, he told us he was speaking to his lawyers to find out what to do next about this allegation.
We also asked Romy if he was certain it was his photo alleged stolen. He told us he did an analysis of the photos and found there were many identical features between the one used on the stamp and his photo. You can view his analysis here.
Romy said he did a video analysis, which showed how the photo could have been reedited by superimposing features on the original image using a photo editing software.
“There are other analyses by photographers in the threads at DP Review and Fred Miranda confirming that the photos are the same image. I’m confident that an analysis by independent experts will confirm the same.
“By the way, I have the RAW file of the image,so I can easily prove copyright ownership in any forum or venue.” Romy, who has been involved in wildlife photography since 2004, said.
We asked him if he had experienced photo theft before.“Yes, many times. But this is the first time that a government institution, and a Southeast Asian neighbour at that, was involved,” the 48-year-old photographer said.
We spoke to an officer with Pos Malaysia who told us to get in touch with the design company that worked with Tourism Malaysia to provide the content for the postal agency.
"Pos Malaysia only issues the stamp and does not provide the content. The content is managed by the design company working with Tourism Malaysia," an officer who wanted to remain anonymous told us. We also learnt that Tourism Malaysia and the design company was expected to issue a press release later to clarify this allegation.
We were told to call the World Communications Network Resources (M) Sdn Bhd to obtain the release. We did so and was told that the person-in-charge was not available and would return our calls.
Based the company website, World Communications Network Resources it was set up in 1994 and provides integrated corporate marketing communication services. The company is registered with the Finance Ministry, Institute of Public Relations Malaysia, Association of Accredited Advertising Agencies (4As), Malaysian Association of Creativity and Innovation and FINAS."
Romy told us that he would advise other photographers to post only small versions of their photos online and to always watermark their work to avoid theft.