Friday, October 24, 2003

Affirmative Action

As promised, I sent the following mail to Mark Vallen at yesterday to let him know that his artwork was being used illegitimately:

Hi Mark,
I came upon your site this morning. I suspect you may have reason to be displeased about how I did that, and I'd be very interested in hearing your reaction.

Let me explain. I don't know if you have been following the riverbend blogger on the internet ( It's written by a young Iraqi woman and describes in vivid terms her reactions to the US invasion. I believe it's a very important site.

Unfortunately someone who I believe to be a disgruntled US male, a vehement and partisan Bush supporter, probably in his fifties or over, has set up a spoiler site called (note the extra S). It is designed to look like riverbend's site, and still claims to be written by an Iraqi "girl" but it gives an entirely different message. In fact it is just a plagiarised collection of US govt and foreign news sources. You can read my detailed dissection of where every entry has been stolen from at my blog (

Now how does this relate to you? Well if you go to the fake site you will note that it includes in the top right-hand corner a picture of a supposedly Iraqi woman. Just a very quick look at the html shows it is in fact linked to your site. And is of a woman demonstrating against US sanctions against Iraq. (The fuller picture shows she is holding a child's coffin, though this is obscured from the cut-off version on the fake site)

My point in summary:
Your photo of a woman protesting US policy in Iraq is being used, presumably without your permission, to promote - by underhand means - US foreign policy in Iraq. This seems to me at the very least ironic, and probably unlawful.

It is my belief that the fake riverSbend blog should be removed from the internet. I think there is a very solid case for this happening. However I also think that it should exist online for a while with a public apology for what it has attempted to do - to smear an Iraqi woman and distort her use of her right to freedom of speech. And I am attempting to garner pressure to make that happen.

If you would like to examine my blog ( and make a public comment on how you feel about the real riverbend blog and the fake smear blog, and most particularly it's apparent infringing of your copyright, and distortion of your artistic intent I would like to publish it on my blog. Anyway thank you for your time and I look forward to your response,