‘The woman in the photograph may initiate separate action if she gets to know that her picture is being used this way’

Nandini Thilak , IE

A French photographer has served a legal notice to the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW), for allegedly using an image clicked by him without his consent. The photographer has alleged that the DCW used the copyrighted picture on billboards advertising its rape victim’s cell. He has demanded Rs 50 lakh as damages.

Paris-based photographer Christophe Viseux has claimed that he was driving through Delhi in February this year when he noticed several posters bearing the copyrighted photograph on billboards put up the by the DCW, encouraging rape victims to use its helpline.

Viseux said he clicked the photograph of a partially veiled woman during a trip to Jaisalmer in January 2011 and had uploaded it on his blog. His lawyer said the picture may have been picked up from his blog and reproduced in the DCW advertisement. The respondents listed in the notice are the DCW, the National Commission for Women and the Delhi government.

Viseux’s lawyer, Dushyant Kumar Mahant said his client was awaiting response from those concerned before taking legal action.

“My client found this picture flashed all over Delhi in billboards. While I am representing him as his copyright and moral right to the picture has been infringed, the woman in the photograph may initiate separate action if she gets to know that her picture is being used this way,” Mahant said.

The notice has asked for a response within two weeks and has also asked for a full disclosure of the use of the picture.

In addition to paying Rs 50 lakh for copyright violation, Viseux has demanded that Rs 20 lakh be deposited with an Indian NGO of his choice, which works for women’s rights.

“The original picture was taken in January near Jaisalmer. (This is) just really unfair, especially coming from the government,” Viseux said.

Acknowledging the receipt of the legal notice from Viseux on Friday, the Delhi Commission for Women Chairperson Barkha Singh said the commission had contacted its advertising agency for an explanation.

“We received the notice on Friday, and we have called the agency which made the advertisements,” Singh said.

“We are preparing a reply after receiving the notice. The responsibility in the case lies with the agency. We called for designs from a DAVP-approved agency (Directorate of Audio and Visual Publicity, under the Government of India Ministry of Information and Technology) and bought one from the designs submitted,” said Promila Mitra, Deputy Secretary, DCW.