'Shock' Still in Trouble Over Cover Image

Photographer Wants Copyright Photo Off Web Site

By Published on .

Most Popular
NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- One week after Shock magazine said it had settled a dispute over a photo it used on its inaugural cover, the deal seems to have collapsed. The photo of a U.S. soldier cradling an injured Iraqi girl was taken by freelance journalist Michael Yon, who said he not given permission to Hachette Filipacchi Media, publishers of Shock, to use the photo.
According to the photographer, Hachette had agreed to stop showing the above photo online at the magazine's site, shocku.com.
According to the photographer, Hachette had agreed to stop showing the above photo online at the magazine's site, shocku.com.

"The agreement with HFM fell apart," Mr. Yon wrote in an e-mail to Advertising Age. "They have been dealing in bad faith and committed willful copyright infringements after the agreement was written, but before we signed."

Disputing photog's account
A spokeswoman for Hachette disputed Mr. Yon's account. "We do not agree with Michael Yon's assertion that we have infringed on a proposed agreement," she said. "We are disappointed that he has unilaterally walked away from our discussions as we have attempted to resolve this matter in good faith."

"We believe we've acted in good faith," she said. "If we infringed on his copyright, it was innocent. We thought we had a settlement that he even announced publicly on his site. But he appears to have changed his mind and doesn't appear open to a settlement and he appears to be using this as a platform for ongoing publicity."

Shock hit newsstands May 30. Shortly after it appeared, Mr. Yon, a blogger and former Green Beret who went to Iraq as a freelance journalist, wrote on his blog that he would never have agreed to let Shock use the image.

"I regularly turn down usage requests for this photo -- uses that could earn money -- because this photo is sacred to me and is representative of the U.S. soldiers I have come to know," he wrote. "My attorneys are in discussions with those at fault, and we have demanded that all copies of the magazine be removed from circulation and from the Internet."

The agreement, announced June 2 achieved none of those things, but Hachette agreed to pay Mr. Yon a licensing fee and to make a contribution to Fisher House, a charitable group that provides low-cost housing to veterans and military families.

Renew call for boycott
According to Mr. Yon, Hachette also agreed to stop showing the photo online at the magazine's site, shocku.com. When it reappeared, Mr. Yon said he called to complain but was frustrated by several days' delay in pulling the picture down again. He now says he will renew his call for a boycott.

It was not clear whether Mr. Yon would renew his threat of legal action. "There's no demand from us," he said today, "because we have to assess our next move."

Hachette has said all along that it obtained the photo from a reputable photo agency, and Shock credited the picture to Polaris Images. Mr. Yon said he has never worked with or heard of Polaris. Advertising Age left multiple messages at Polaris, including another one this afternoon, but has never heard back.
In this article: