Wash Post Puff Piece on "Shock" Omits Raging Dispute Over Michael Yon Photo

Many writers covering the launch of a new magazine would mention that its inaugural issue had been boycotted and removed from thousands of chain-store racks because of a copyright infringement case that continues to rage.

Not Peter Carlson, though. That would be too...obvious.

In the prophetically titled Avert Your Eyes! And Your Brain! in today's Style section, Carlson appears not to have gotten the memo on war correspondent Michael Yon, whose heart-rending photo of an American soldier cradling a bloodied Iraqi child was used without Yon's permission in the inaugural issue of Shock. In fact, one of the photos illustrating Carlson's story reproduces that cover, but rather than even a hint about this debacle Carlson cracks wise about Jessica Simpson photos.

The story has all the signs of being dashed off after receiving a press packet from publisher Hachette Filipacchi Media, which may have forgotten to mention the controversy. Carlson describes the atmosphere of the publication well enough--photos of everything from rotting chicken heads to rotting human corpses. Using Yon's iconic photo without permission to launch a major commercial enterprise that has all the class of a freak show kind of ticked him off. So did the magazine's use of the photo to frame Iraq as another Vietnam.

The result? So far, over 7,000 retailers have have halted the magazine's distribution, including Rite-Aid and Eckerd's, and the battle rages on. Here's the situation as described by Yon back on May 26:

Many people have become aware of a recent serious photo copyright infringement. The photo in question is that of Major Bieger holding a little Iraqi girl named Farah who was killed by a suicide car bomber in Mosul, Iraq. I first became aware of the infringement when stunned and angry readers contacted me under the mistaken belief that I allowed SHOCK magazine to use it on their cover. I did not, and never would have agreed to their usage. I regularly turn down usage requests for this photo — uses that could earn money — because this photo is sacred to me and is representative of the U.S. soldiers I have come to know. It is also representative of the horrors of the enemy we all face.

My attorneys are in discussions with those at fault, and we have demanded that all copies of the magazine be removed from circulation and from the internet....

One of the latest developments is a settlement with Polaris Images, detailed here in a June 28 story by PDN Online (pdf), which like other links in my post comes from Yon's own website. A settlement between HFM and Yon broke down, and further developments are being tracked by Yon here.

Cross-posted at PostWatch