Source: Jolovan Wham’s Facebook post

Recently on 9 September, the Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics (HOME) released its video interview with lawyer Anil Balchandani of Red Lion Circle, the pro-bono defence counsel of Indonesian domestic worker Parti Liyani, on Youtube.

Ms Parti was previously found guilty in the State Courts of stealing over S$34,000 worth of items belonging to her former employer, Changi Airport Group chairman Liew Mun Leong and his family. She was then acquitted of all convictions and charge by the High Court on 8 September.

A week before the High Court ruling (23 Aug), HOME had an interview with Mr Anil with regards to Ms Parti’s case and it was published by the organisation on 9 September.

The video was then picked up by the mainstream media and was featured in The Straits Times’ (ST) Big Story segment which aired on Thursday (10 September).

However, a local academic and volunteer of HOME, Dr Stephanie Chok in a Facebook post yesterday alleged that ST has edited bits of the video into its news segment which gave the impression that “it is an ST Big Story coup”.

In the post, Dr Chok indicated it is “highly unethical” that ST did not seek consent from HOME before featuring the video interview on its news segment.

“This video is HOME’s intellectual property and you should have reached out if you wanted to use portions of it,” she wrote, adding that ST should at least give credits to HOME by including the link to the original video on HOME’s Youtube channel.

“Also, you could have linked to the actual video, but no, you simply lifted chunks from it. This video was shot by a professional videographer who did this on a pro-bono basis for HOME.”

She then urged ST to “take it down, seek consent, and link to the original Youtube video”.

Dr Chok also claimed that the mainstream media, including ST, were “not interested in hearing Parti Liyani’s side of the story” nor the defence team before the acquittal from the High Court.

She explained that the hearings were held in open court – which took place for more than 20 days in the State Courts – as well as the High Court appeal.

“All this news analysis of what transpired in Court: if you had just bothered to be present, to follow the trial, and not only get your soundbites from the Prosecutor, well, you could have contributed to a different narrative way earlier.

“Instead, when Parti was sentenced in March 2019, the news headlines and articles only regurgitated Judge Olivia Low’s grounds of decision,” Dr Chok added.

Now that the acquittal of Parti Liyani made headlines, Dr Chok noted that ST is “thieving off the creative content of the NGO and volunteer team that has supported Parti all these years” out of “thirst for clicks”.

ST removes HOME’s video interview with Anil Balchandani

In response, ST on Friday (11 Sept) stated that it has taken down the video from its Facebook page, claiming that it did give credit to HOME in both its news segment and Facebook post.

“The interview was done by the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (Home). Credit was given in the introduction to the segment, the Facebook post and the top left corner of the video,” it wrote on Facebook.

“Following feedback that this could be made clearer, we have taken the video down to do so.”

Activist Jolovan Wham recalls ST demanded payments for reproducing its articles

Singaporean activist Jolovan Wham re-shared Dr Chok’s Facebook post as he recalled how the news outlet has demanded payments for reproducing its articles.

“The Straits Times even charges restaurants for reproducing their food reviews. This is theft,” Mr Wham wrote on Facebook.

Back in 2012, Twelve Cupcakes’ business owners, Daniel Ong and ex wife Jaime Teo, have shared their interview articles with ST – including The New Paper and a couple of magazines – to their followers on Facebook, Twitter and their company’s website.

Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) who owns the news outlets, however, demanded payment from them as they have reproduced its articles online, as reported by Tech In Asia on 6 July 2012.

Mr Ong wrote in a Facebook post that they received an email from SPH demanding payment of S$535 per story. He claimed that the payment would be “almost S$3,000” in total, which later on was denied by SPH.

Despite they have compromised to take down the stories, SPH still demanded S$214 from them as an “investigation fee”.

Moreover, they would be “liable for infringement” for the next six years if they refuse to pay the fee.

“Did you know? Biz owners are not allowed to share stories about themselves on their websites unless they pay… Stalls/cafes etc …cant photocopy and then put it at their stalls or sign boards for people to see…Unless they pay,” he wrote.

SPH told him that it has widely informed newsmakers about its copyright infringement policy via workshops and a newspaper ad, but Mr Ong noted that he had not seen the ad and was not invited to the workshops.

In response to Mr Ong’s complaints, SPH noted that under copyright law, the copyright for a piece of work belongs to the author and not the interviewees or information providers.

Edit: A part of this article has been removed due to updates to the situation.

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