A US-based photographer of Nepali origin has sent a copyright notice to the Indian Prime Minister’s Office for allegedly using his photo without permission of an official Facebook page.
The case pertains to a photograph of glowing candles in an S-shaped pattern, which had
on Narendra Modi's Facebook page in October last year with a message on the occasion of Dhanteras.
Photographer Bimal Nepal claims he had clicked the photo and posted it on photo-sharing site Flickr in 2012 before it appeared on Modi's Facebook page without his permission or giving him credit.
"We work hard at our craft, and others, no matter how prominent and powerful, should not be permitted to misappropriate the fruits of our labour and skill," he said.
The issue created a flutter on social media last year and Nepal had asked Modi to give him credit and compensation. He said he had decided to pursue the issue as there was no response from New Delhi.
When the matter first came to light, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) had said the photo was publicly available on several websites and there was no need to take permission from the photographer. Sources in the PMO had said the photo was sent by a creative agency, which had clarified it was available on prominent and legitimate websites that offered the option of downloading it for free.
The sources further said the photo was used to extend wishes to Modi's online followers and not to make any profit.
On Friday, the US law firm of Fish and Richardson, which is pursuing Nepal's case pro-bono, issued a statement confirming that it had sent a letter to the PMO.
The firm is "offering to license the Prime Minister's use of the photograph in exchange for an acknowledgement crediting him (Nepal) as the photographer and a nominal license fee".
"Bimal admires Prime Minister Modi, and recognizes that this is a noncommercial use of his copyrighted image," said Adam Kessel of Fish and Richardson, who is handling the case.
"He is pursuing this issue as it sends an important message about artist's rights and respecting intellectual property," Kessel said.