The Cost of a Stolen Photo: Yo Pa Wont?

  • Posted on: 2 November 2007
  • By: Bryan Schaaf
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A few months ago, perhaps in August, I received an email in my inbox that was interesting enough not to delete but not enticing to read immediately. So it sat in my inbox until about a week ago. It was a link to an online game called Haiti The Cost of Life hosted on UNICEF’s website.


I finally got around to playing the Sims like game one-day, intended to teach its audience about the difficult choices Haitians face on a daily basis. The scenario I played was with a family of 5; a mother and father, 2 boys and 1 girl. In each series, there were 4 series or seasons per year, you had to choose what each family member would do in that season whether to go to school, work the family farm, go to work in the urban factory, etc.


And your choices were measured by indicators such as happiness, education, money, heath and others which in turn measured your gaming skills. I didn’t give the game much thought and not to say if I did I wouldn’t have lasted past the 3 season before killing the daughter in the family. But my poor choices that lead to my virtual family’s first death that of I believe my 7-year-old virtual Haitian girl came with a unique twist.


My Ti Grenn Fanm (not her real name) burial, according to the photo that appeared in the window after the death of one of the family members, was in this tranquil 4 tomb cemetery. One that looked extremely familiar to me. And one that I had a hard time believing many people had laid eyes on other than me. The fact was that this picture was so vivid to me I realized it was my photo.


It was a photo taken by me and now used on a UNICEF website without my permission. I quickly thought I’m glad to help UNICEF get the message out about Haiti. But then I looked around the website a little more. And I didn’t like a few things. First I didn’t like that the copyright text on the site claimed the following: “UNICEF reserves all copyrights on material on its web pages, including photographs…”


Uh… I DON’T THINK SO! Second I can only assume that Gamelab the game developers of Haiti the Cost of Life charged a fee for their services which, no longer makes me feel like my photograph was being used for benevolent purposes but rather someone has now profited. Simply put this is not cool and further more it is poor business ethics.


Not sure exactly who took the photograph from my website but I am sure of this; that person didn’t mountain bike from Jeremie to Pestel for 12 hrs in one day wake up exhausted the next morning to enjoy a simple walk through town and coincidentally happen upon the same exact place I did in front of these 4 tombstones under the same exact light conditions and flora.



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