Bild – that’s “picture” for the linguistically challenged – is that country’s biggest selling daily: sort of like the Sun without all those long difficult words. Although we have to admit we’re using the term “newspaper” in its loosest possible sense: under German law a newspaper must carry at least 66% of newsworthy content, and there has been considerable controversy as to whether Bild actually meets that condition. Local note: try that test at home with the Daily Sport sometime.
Bildblog, a typically humorous German site, specialises in researching Bild stories it feels push the concept of economy in truth a little far, and exposing any alleged inaccuracies. But last week they upped the ante. Recently Bild began advertising for readers – again we use the term loosely – to submit pictures of “accidents, natural occurrences, and especially politicians, prominent and non-prominent, in compromising or private situations.” So far, so pap: it’s the citizen journalism thing again. In return Bild offers to dole out the Deutschmarks on publication: up to 5,000 Euros to each lucky laienpaparazzi, as the paper has dubbed them.
But Bildblog has taken umbrage, claiming that a few years ago the Berlin Regional Court ruled that Bild editor Kai Diekmann “profits from infringing the privacy of others” and therefore “is less entitled to privacy himself”. So Bildblog has wheeled out the tanks and retaliated with its own laienpaparazzi initiative, inviting readers to mail pictures of Diekmann to the site for publication. “Bildblog is right now looking for the best Diekmann photos”, they announced. “Like Dock Diekmann (42), resident of Hamburg at the beach, or asleep in the airplane, or picking his nose thoughtfully or completely relaxed having a beer in a bar.”
Needless to say we at EPUK deplore such a provocative attempt to encourage harassment of an innocent editor who is after all only following orders from his publisher. Editors like Herr Diekmann and their photographers perform a genuine public service providing vital information on the important issues of the day, often at considerable personal risk. And we certainly hope that nobody in this country will follow Bildblog’s scurrilous example by founding sites such as Currentbunblog, Dailystarblog or the like.
Back in Germany, some feel Bildblog’s blitzkrieg has gone too far in its pursuit of the hapless Diekmann. One reader deplored what he called the site’s “old testament justice”, while another accused the Bildblog team of “resembling the paper more and more” in their behaviour. Too true. Take a look at the terms and conditions the warring sides offer their contributors, and then try to decide who’s ripping off whom.
The Bad Guys from Bild first: “Those who send a photo via MMS or Email declares that he owns all rights to that photo, and transfers all rights to Axel Springer AG for publication in all media – for further processing, archiving and sales.”
And now Bildblog: “Those who send a Diekmann picture to Bildblog herewith declare that you own and transfer all rights for publication in all media, for further processing, archiving and sales.”
So whatever side they take, the laienpaparazzi have their copyreich annexed.
Diekmann: an innocent editor driven underground