Daniel Ong charged $3K for posting SPH articles

From ‘Storm in a cupcake’, 6 July 2012, article by June Yang, Today online

…In a series of Twitter and Facebook posts, Mr Daniel Ong – a former DJ for radio stations in both MediaCorp and SPH’s stables – said he was asked to pay a sum of S$535 for each of the articles featuring his business Twelve Cupcakes or his wife and co-owner Jamie Ong that he had put up on the Twelve Cupcakes website and shared via social media.

He also said he had been charged an additional S$214 for “investigative fees”. According to Mr Ong’s Facebook post, SPH continued to ask payment for the investigative fees even after he agreed to remove the articles from his website.

Mr Ong wrote on his Facebook post: “Did you know? Business owners are not allowed to share stories about themselves on their websites unless they pay … Stalls and cafes can’t photocopy (articles) and put them at their stalls or signboards unless they pay. I never knew that!”

Sweets for his sweet

In May this year, TNP gave a glowing review of 12 cupcakes (3.5/5), in which the the couple revealed the origins of the name (12 holes in a baking tray) and why they decided to go into the confectionery business. Herworld described their creations with the suggestive ‘oh-so-moist’ and the queasy ‘handmade with love’, which got me thinking of Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze in Ghost for some reason. Of course you hardly see a scathing critique of celebrity FnB ventures, though I wonder if ‘star power’, TV appearances, curiosity and word of mouth alone would have been sufficient to drive this sideshow sweet-shop to become the smashing success that it is today. If a well-known celebrity host could get away with naming his food establishment after ‘Porn’, I don’t see anyone else in the media circle getting less than a 3-star review, whether it’s selling cupcakes or char siew rice. National bowler Remy Ong once had a stint selling POPIAH. Long term success, however, is another matter altogether. Think Planet Hollywood.

According to the ST website, the prohibition of unauthorised commercial use of their content is implicitly stated under ‘News Post Enquiry Form’.

To republish any Singapore Press Holdings articles and photographs, please contact us via the request form by providing the following details so that we can revert to you with the necessary copyright fees and license before any republication can be made

Nowhere in the site do you see a ‘Terms and Conditions’ or ‘WARNING’ link, but what bothers me here is not so much why ANYONE would pay SPH hundreds of dollars just to reproduce their material, but the phrase ‘we can REVERT to you’, which is more embarrassing than hounding enterprising celebrities for copyright infringement charges like glorified loan sharks. In the age of copy, rip, burn and ‘RT’s, SPH’s anal-clenching grip on ‘ownership’ seems out of touch with the alternate digital universe in which we’re spending more of our lives, where posting and sharing content has become as natural as breathing. It’s like a a park warden confiscating the canvas from a painter for making an ‘unauthorised copy’ of the sunrise in his premises. Should bloggers who earn advertising revenue from quoting or retweeting ST articles fall under ‘commerical use’ as well? In a 7 July 2012 ST response to this cupcake controversy, other than deferring to the power of copyright law:

SPH confirmed that hawker stalls and cafes can frame up an actual print article for display, but copying it would constitute an infringement of copyright.

Which begs the question of the definition of ‘copying’. It’s understood from the above statement that you can only cut out and laminate ST articles from actual newpapers. You cannot make a photocopy of ST from the library, but can you take a photo of the page then? How about only ‘quoting’ excerpts from the papers? How many words are you allowed to ‘quote’ before it constitutes a violation of identity theft?

Late last year, SPH sued Yahoo news site for ‘free-riding’ on the efforts of their editorial staff.  In 2001, Today published apology for  using an ST image of a SilkAir pilot (You’re supposed to buy images from their ‘Photobank’). I’m also wondering what amounted to ‘investigative fees’ here; I did the same ‘detective work’ in less than a minute digging up where Daniel Ong posted the SPH links (on his website, duh.) Perhaps instead of paying them the $200 fee, Daniel and Jaime should instead dedicate a limited edition cupcake flavour (in addition to their signature Red Velvet and Chocolate Chocolate) worth that amount in honour of SPH’s dogged diligence in weeding out copycats. They could call it, I dunno, Copyright Crankyberry or something, and become the Ben and Jerry of Cupcakes.

The recipe for a $200 novelty cupcake could be something like this:

  • 1 cup of sugar, 2 cups flour, 2 eggs, 500g salty butter, and whatever stuff that makes cupcakes cupcakes.
  • 3/4 cup of cranberries, 2 tbp artificial vanilla essence, grated blue cheese, prune bits, nata de coco, and a cherry soaked in brandy for 535 days.
  • A generous sprinkling of gold flakes, a stuffing made up of caramelised $50 bills, and a miniature candy Volkswagen on top.

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2 Responses

  1. […] – DKSG: SPH vs Daniel Ong: Who has the rights to the articles? – five stars and a moon: Take your own action on SPH – The Journey of a Decade: Daniel Ong vs SPH – Everything Also Complain: Daniel Ong charged $3K for posting SPH articles […]

  2. Well, copyright is copyright altho I think many, if not most, of SPH food reviews suck. Ditto those given on 93.8 of Mediacorp. Talking of celebrity FnB, that delectable Terence Cao’s Pontian noodles at Plaza Singapura alas didn’t last too long: much to my regret, cos I got served only once by TC. I returned many times but he didn’t show 😥

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