Much sound and fury over first issue of 'Shock'

By Published on .

Who (aside from our bosses) says it's a waste of time to surf blogs that have seemingly nothing to do with your job? Adages, for example, had kicked off the old shoes and was relaxing with a cruise through milblogs (that's "military blogs" for you civilians) when we stumbled across a photo of the cover of Hachette Filipacchi's Shock magazine. A number of things shocked us about this. The first was that someone outside the media bubble had even heard of the title. The second was that the cover photo seemed very familiar.

And that's where the fun started. The cover photo of an American soldier cradling an injured Iraqi girl was familiar because we'd seen it on Michael Yon, a blogger, photographer and former Green Beret, has been reporting from Iraq and Afghanistan as a freelance journalist. The photograph gracing the cover of Shock was taken by Yon.

And it was used without his permission.

Yon and his lawyers demanded that Hachette remove all issues of Shock from the newsstand. That could be a wee problem for the debut issue of a magazine that relies on newsstand sales. Shock refused to budge, saying in a statement that it had bought the photo from Polaris Images, that it was acting in good faith and that it had the utmost respect for photographer rights and would stand by its actions.

And then Yon and his lawyer, John D. Mason, decided to sue-and to talk. No formal suit was filed at the time of writing, but Mason said they are suing both Hachette and Polaris for copyright infringement. "We have not arrived at an agreement and it doesn't appear that it will be solved amicably," said Mason. He said his client would never have authorized the use of that particular photo for any use by Hachette, "let alone that they're selling a schlocky magazine."

In a phone interview with Adages, Yon said he was "stunned" when he saw the cover. "I've never seen anything so flagrant." Yon also claimed that Hachette, in written correspondence, had implied that he might be hit with a defamation suit-a charge that a Shock spokeswoman flatly denied. He also said that in the ensuing discussions with Hachette, he came to believe they may have known there were "issues" with the rights of the photo. "In my mind they've gone from possibly being an innocent infringer to a willing infringer."

The Shock spokeswoman denied that charge as well, restating that the photo was purchased from Polaris, a "reputable photo agency."

Polaris, which is now caught squarely in the middle of this, has remained silent throughout. Repeated requests for comment went unanswered.

Shock and Hachette, meanwhile, stuck to the statement.

And Yon? He followed up with a lenghty post on his Web site and set up a 'Boycott Shock' page listing Hachette employees and distributor contacts so that bloggers could get involved.

But by the evening of June 2, both parties said a settlement had been reached. According to a statement from Hachette, Yon and his lawyer acknowledged "that we have worked responsibly to find a solution, and, after discussions, we have agreed to pay Yon a licensing fee for the photograph that is on the cover of Shock and to make a contribution to Fisher House, a charitable organization dedicated to providing low-cost lodging to veterans and military families." Neither party would disclose the amount of money involved.

Jackie Chan, the verb

Adages is a sworn enemy of the unnecessary transformation of nouns into verbs. We've railed, as recently as last week, at creatives who are trying to sneak the non-word "concepting" beyond the walls of agency offices. So we weren't exactly thrilled with what we found in a recent copy of This Old House Magazine (hey, we grew up watching Bob Vila). In an article about fixing holes in walls, we came across this line of copy: "An energetic teenager Jackie-Chans the Sheetrock." Turning a proper noun into a verb? For shame, This Old House. For shame. Then again, Jackie Chan apparently loved the idea. A This Old House source tells Adages that a copy of the issue made its way to Hong Kong and into Jackie's hands (we're not going to suggest that maybe an enterprising PR person mailed him a copy, because such things aren't done). Jackie, no doubt because he's been spending lots of money learning proper English, was puzzled by the use of his name. But after having it explained to him and after an assistant used no less an authoritative source than "The Urban Dictionary," Jackie was so taken with the idea that he had a photo of himself with the offending issue of This Old House slapped up on his Web site. And everyone was happy. (Except for Adages.)

Hicks a man of the 'People'

A football player wins the Super Bowl, where does he go? Disney World. A crooner wins "American Idol," where does he go? The offices of People magazine! OK, so Taylor Hicks probably got to go to plenty of other places after winning "Idol," but last week, People held "American Idol" Week at its offices. And if you expect to make it in the business, the first thing an aspiring celebrity learns is that when People beckons, you answer the call. So Hicks stopped by the offices. A source tells us he had "only wonderful things" to say about fellow contestants Katharine McPhee and Elliot Yamin, who also visited the offices last week. We wonder if US Weekly or Star had had an American Idol week if Hicks would have had only nasty slanderous things to say about them.

Contributing: Nat Ives Shock us at [email protected]
Most Popular
In this article: