U.S.-based Liberian journalist James Kokulo Fasuekoi has formally complained to the Press Union of Liberia or PUL, over alleged flagrant misuse of his war photographs by some of the local dailies in Liberia, seeking thorough and swift investigation to resolve the matter outside of litigation.
In his official complaint dated February 28, 2018, addressed to the Secretariat of the National Media Council of the PUL in Monrovia, Mr. Fasuekoi writes, “My treasured war-photographs that have been subject of unwarranted and excessive misuse, abuse, and exploitation, lately by Liberian media organizations include (1) a portrait of Mohammed Jabateh, wearing military uniforms, (exhibit “A”); (2) a group photograph of Jabateh posing with ULIMO rebel soldiers, (exhibit “B”); (3) a group photograph showing ULIMO-K leader, Alhaji G.V. Kromah, with his bodyguards and fighters in the faction’s erstwhile headquarters of Tubmanburg, Bomi County, during the heydays of the war (exhibit “C”). The referenced photos, of high resolution, are not backyard garden images; I captured all in hostile territories in the heat of war, all at the expense of my own life.”
He alleges that several Liberian dailies, including FrontPage Africa, Daily Observer and New Democrat, Hot Pepper, Capitol Times and New Republic, among others have also run one or more of the referenced war-photos multiple times without seeking his permission or crediting him for his works.
“Firstly, it must be noted that their behavior to plagiarize my copyrighted photo strongly undermines fundamental rules of the journalism profession, as enshrined in the Journalist’s Creed created by late Walter Williams, Dean of the Missouri School of Journalism, more than a century ago. The Creed unequivocally states, among other things that ‘clear thinking and clear statement, accuracy and fairness are fundamental to good journalism’”, he underscores.
Meanwhile, Mr. Fasuekoi wants the National Media Council to request all Liberian publishers and editors, who allegedly violated the referenced photographs to, among others, remove them from their webpages immediately without conditions; thoroughly investigate and establish the facts per his complaint and recommend appropriate remedies which may include reasonable compensation from institutions found liable for gross copyright violations of his works.
The complaint, based in Minnesota, the United States is presently visiting Liberia. He is news editor for The AfricaPaper published by the Africa Institute for International Reporting (AIIR) also based in the U.S.
By Jonathan Browne