Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Tales of Hoffman: Part Two

FURTHER to our post 'Tales of Hoffman:  Part One' on this Blog last week, Northern Voices was sent another  commentary from the photo-journalist, Mr. David Hoffman, on his involvement with Freedom Press and his subsequent claim which resulted in Freedom paying him £4,000.   Here is what he has to say on reflection; in some of this he repeats what he has already said in 'Tales of Hoffman:  Part One':

Dear xxx,
'I found the [copyright] saga depressing, a Greek tragedy.  Entirely foreseeable, entirely avoidable and entirely inevitable.  If Freedom had had the respect that I might have expected for what is my lifetime's (well over 36 years so far) work against racism none of this would have happened.  Dozens of left publications ask me for my pics, pay at an appropriate rate and we all work together generously and honestly.  Freedom pissed in the soup to save a few bob and out of a feeling of arrogant entitlement.  Just like a banker.

'This is a roughly pasted together e-mail that I've been adding to, that's why you'll find it a bit disjointed.  At some point I might flesh it out with specifics like times and dates for the numerous attempts I made to get Freedom to settle for a few hundred (NUJ rates) and the return of my stolen prints used for a book.  And there's a lot more  that I did trying to avoid this slow motion train wreck.

'I have 104 items in my "Freedom" robbers folder, that's 10 times what there should be and because I bust my balls trying again and again to find them a cheap easy way out.  I've never worked so hard trying to save an infringer from its own death wish.  Freedom just ignored me, made promises they didn't keep, wasted my time, lied repeatedly and dug themselves deeper and deeper in their own poo.

'That's why it became so expensive.  Mind you, if it had been Getty's pics they'd nicked it would have likely been five times as much.

'It seems that the current collective hasn't sufficient conviction in their own case to allow any of this on their site, so I'll leave the handful who have been cursing me to get on with it on their own.  I've had my teeth knocked out by cops, had my life threatened by a (now serving life) BNP murderer (and by a dozen others from '70s NF to 2012 EDL) and I've survived every major riot in the UK in my lifetime.  I can probably cope with a few rude tweets from people who lack the courage to use their own names.

'There's a lot more to this than Freedom are putting into the public realm.  Unfortunately you are unlikely to see it, as a response alongside the allegations on their site would expose their deceit.

'I've been a fan and supporter of Freedom since 1970.  I've been asked to speak at the Book Fair and have been to many of the events in Angel Alley.  I've rather lost touch with them over the last decade as the collective has become inward looking, defensive and irrelevant.

'I put 3 months into trying to to get a cheap, amicable resolution.  Twice, neutral, independent friends of theirs tried to resolve this.  Both said Freedom should settle.  At the start it would have been a few hundred to cover the standard NUJ recommended fees and they could have had time to pay if needed.  They were ignored.  Freedom stonewalled, lied, obstructed, refused to make any offers at all, claimed they had permission, blamed others and accused good people I know of some seriously treacherous behaviour - all lies.  They left me no choice but to walk away or go in hard.  It was Freedom who ruled out an amicable solution.

'I'm not inclined to walk away from oppressive behaviour from the right or the left.  I put a great deal of time and effort into protecting the rights of my colleagues (and myself) and I'm not about to undermine that 30+ year struggle by letting a bunch of armchair anarchists deliberately pillage work that I have put together since the'70s often at considerable risk.

'Freedom also owns a secretive holding company with the building worth well over £1m (they deny that but had it valued recently - let's see the valuation?) plus significant other assets secret.  Just like the Barclay brothers.  They are in no danger of bankruptcy - other than moral bankruptcy.

'In any case the readership of the paper has been falling for years, long before this spat.  The collective has discussed whether they can or should continue to produce it on a number of occasions.  Pretending that the doubts over its future are down to this single payment is a deliberate deceit against its own supporter.

'The [Freedom] collective pretends that using my photos "was a honest mistake" that's not the case.  The question of copyright was raised at the collective meeting that decided to publish the book and [was] just brushed aside.

'Freedom are professional publishers with more than 100 years of publishing behind them.  They know about copyright.  They mark all their own books with clear copyright notices!  Some of the photos (prints stolen from another mag.) had my name and copyright notice and contact info. on but they deliberately ignored that.

'Sometimes they claim "it was a honest mistake".  But  other times they say that they thought they had permission - yet they never even told me they were publishing my work or gave me a credit.  Why?  Because they didn't want me to find out.

'There's loads more but I've wasted enough time on this.  I've been insulted and subject  to daft allegations for 30+ years.  Let them rattle on about how evil I am if it makes them happy.  Me, I'm happy to be judged on my record.

'And some of the £4K has gone to Kiva, some to the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, some will go to other good causes and some is for me to take down to the pub with my friends.

'I might also have added that the collective were deeply split on whether to go ahead with the book (voted to publish by 1 vote).  And Dean Talent (the collective member who really pushed for publication) told me apologetically that trouble it had caused was his/ their fault.  Then they slung him out of the collective, they certainly blame him (see Dean Talent's comment disputing this beneath Tales of Hoffman:  Part One). 

'My recent claim is only the tip of the iceberg Freedom are sailing towards.  There are plenty of other photos infringed in that book and Freedom have made no attempt to head that off or try to resolve it.  There are many, many other books published by Freedom.  I'd be amazed if there were not hundreds more copyright infringements just waiting to fall in on them.'


'PS - The are currently 3 copyright infringements by the far right, one really major one that I'm working on.  Do you think I should just let them go?  If any of those end up in court my case would be badly weakened if it turned out that I am partisan about who I choose to take action against.'

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