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Thursday, June 29, 2006

Polaris Settled, Hachette Filipacchi Running Low on Facts and Friends

News Release
For Immediate Release
Contact: Irene Pinsonneault (508) 636-9149 or (508) 642-7165


Yon: Polaris Settled, Hachette Filipacchi Running Low on Facts and Friends

[Massachusetts] In announcing that he had reached a settlement agreement with Polaris Images this week, Michael Yon questioned who Hachette Filipacchi would now try to blame for their “numerous, ongoing, willful copyright infringements.” In a dispatch titled “Bordering on the Criminally Inane” published on his website, www.michaelyon-online.com, Yon dissects form letters sent out by Hachette Filipacchi executives, lambasting the editor of Shock Magazine alongside of CEO Jack Kliger, both of whom Yon asserts use false accusations and misrepresentations of facts and laws in order to shift blame and responsibility from themselves onto Polaris and Yon.

In a form letter being sent to people who complained to the editors of Hachette Filipacchi Media magazines, Shock’s editor writes that “We offer Mr. Yon recompense without being legally compelled to do so. He accepted and then refused the offer because of our continued legal use of the image.” Yon replies, “Hammer is wrong. U.S. law mandates fines and penalties in cases of copyright infringement. HFM desired to avoid court- mandated recompense. But by continuing subsequent and separate willful infringements, HFM violated separate laws confirmed in Tasini v. The New York Times.”

Yon wonders about the implications of publishing company executives who either don’t know the current laws that apply to copyright clearance and violation, or they know those laws, and knowingly violate them. Yon asserts these written statements publicly attacking the victim of their unlawful actions are “desperate and transparent” attempts to stave the bleeding from the stumbling launch of a magazine whose content is “so offensive it could only manage to secure three pages of advertisements.” But when it comes to the backlash HFM is getting from consumers and media, Yon has no sympathy for Kliger or anyone involved in this incident because they all had the opportunity to resolve the dispute quietly and professionally. “This is not the first time I have had to defend copyright on that photograph. Of dozens of cases of infringement, only one involving the US Army got any public attention, but all were settled quickly and in my favor.”

Polaris Images concurs, including the following explanation in their statement announcing the settlement: “After the use in Shock Magazine when we learned that we had no right to license that image, we removed the image and worked in good faith with Michael Yon to resolve the issue. We appreciate that Michael Yon settled the matter with us in a professional manner. We respect our service members, veterans and their friends and family and the sacrifices they make.” The full statement is on Yon’s website.

“Hachette Filipacchi contends that this fight is all about publicity, and I agree,” Yon says. “HFM staged this fight for publicity to bolster the launch of Shock magazine, but Kliger got his wires crossed. Shock is being electrocuted. HFM is being jolted.” Kliger released his retailer letter to the media before it went to the stores. From the day this dispute began Yon has repeatedly stated he prefers “writing about our soldiers in harms way,” but will not back down in the face of threatening bullies. “The fact that his public statement is a smear, with insinuations based on falsehoods and bad research, is another illustration of HFM’s modus operandi.”

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