'Shock' Surprises Photographer of Cover Image

Freelancer Says Hachette Used Without Permission, Demands Recall

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- The first issue of Shock magazine isn't due on newsstands until May 30, but publisher Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S. is already hearing demands that it recall all issues from circulation. The request comes from a photographer of one of its cover images. Whether that will mean a very rough launch or a welcome bonanza of press attention remains to be seen.
The photographer who took the cover image of an American soldier cradling an injured Iraqi girl says its use was 'unauthorized and unwelcome.'
The photographer who took the cover image of an American soldier cradling an injured Iraqi girl says its use was 'unauthorized and unwelcome.'

Unauthorized and unwelcome
The front cover features a photograph of an American soldier cradling an injured Iraqi girl, a photo taken by Michael Yon, the blogger and former Green Beret who went to Iraq as a freelance journalist. But a posting on Michael Yon: Online Magazine calls the picture's use unauthorized and unwelcome.

"I first became aware of the infringement when stunned and angry readers contacted me under the mistaken belief that I allowed Shock magazine to use it on their cover," the post reads. "I did not, and never would have agreed to their usage. 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. It is also representative of the horrors of the enemy we all face.

"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."

In a statement, an outside spokeswoman for Hachette said the magazine had done nothing wrong. "Shock magazine obtained publishing rights for the image from a reputable photo agency," she said. "The photographer, Michael Yon, is now challenging that photo agency, suggesting that they were not authorized to license the photo. We are actively looking into the matter; Shock stands behind its actions, which were conducted responsibly and in good faith."

'Stand behind the story'
In an e-mail late Friday, Hachette CEO Jack Kliger wrote that the company is in discussions with the photographer, and that "we stand behind the story."

Although the spokeswoman did not identify the agency, the magazine credits the photo to Polaris. A receptionist at Polaris Images said late Friday that she would pass along a request for comment from Advertising Age, but the agency did not call back after that. Another message left this morning was not returned by press time.

Mr. Yon could not be reached; the attorney listed as a contact on www.michaelyon-online.com also did not respond to a voice message and an e-mail late Friday.

Conservative pundit Michelle Malkin, military blog Blackfive.net and others excoriated Shock not just for what they said was copyright infringement, but for using the photo in an article that compares the war in Iraq with the Vietnam War.
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