Some of you have enquired about why the post on Dolly Bindra on Fantasy magazine cover suddenly disappeared from the blog and I believe I owe you an explanation.

I took off the post because Dolly Bindra requested me to and I thought she had a valid argument and I should oblige. Also I think the stance she took in ensuring that the post is removed is one of the most effective ways to act whenever caught in such a situation – some random website publishes something about you that may not be entirely true, or violates some of your rights or just that something you don’t people to discover online.

As I had mentioned in the post, many of the models whose photographs appeared in such magazines were themselves not aware of their images being used and were therefore surprised (if not shocked) to discover their photographs being published.

When Dolly discovered this she was obviously a little upset, as she told me later and also that the image was part of a portfolio that she had shot but never distributed. Apparently the photographer sold it without even seeking her permission.

She tried to contact me through my various public profiles and initially contended that I couldn’t legally publish the image. I contested her contention.

She said that the image could be seen out of context and a large part of the audience is not very discerning. As Cutting the Chai is all about sharing, I shared her concerns and voluntarily offered to take off the post and the image. Irrespective of the impression that her appearance on Bigg Boss gave us, she is a nice (and calm) person to speak to (only that she speaks a lot).

Cutting the Chai, though some content in here may be objectionable to some, is not a sleazy blog whose only intention is to titillate for traffic. Therefore it didn’t matter to me much if the post want away.

What Dolly did right was to immediately try to reach the owner of the blog through all possible communication streams, this meant that I just couldn’t miss her message, unless of course I had shifted base to under a rock. Her message had a hint of caution (only as hint is fine. Many bloggers, including me, don’t take too kindly to being directly threatened) and her contact info (email ID and phone number) requesting me to get in touch. I am not much of a phone person and am more comfortable communicating via email. I sent her an email explaining my position. She insisted that I call her (she obviously is more of a phone person) as she didn’t have my number. I did and in the long (and mostly one-sided conversation) that followed she explained her apprehensions and I assured her that I will comply with her request. I immediately did. She had her way and it wasn’t too much of a trouble for any of us.

Now imagine a couple of other situations, with real-life examples. The ‘offended’ party using their connections contacts the employer of the blogger concerned. Though most ethical employers will stay away from interfering with what their employees do outside work, but it can easily boil to a Gaurav Sabnis situation. IIPM miscalculated the reaction to its threat and landed up with even more negative publicity. The Indian blogosphere frantically typed in support of Gaurav and against IIPM. What did IIPM gain? Zilch.

Situation 2. The ‘offended’ party with deep pockets and lawyers in dark suits believes offence is the best defence. So they serve the blogger with a legal notice threatening punitive action. The poor blogger, who cannot afford legal hit-men in black suits (and is also a little on the wrong foot), complies and also publishes an apology. But the word leaks out of a big business arm-twisting a misfortunate blogger and the blogger immediately becomes the victim in the eyes of the audience and the ‘offended’ party the villain. This again results in the kind of worldwide buzz that one wouldn’t have bargained for. The ‘malicious’ content that the ‘offended’ party wanted to get removed, spreads like wildfire and no top-notch legal team in the world will be able to dowse it with any amount of legalese. Ask Barkha Dutt.

Therefore the best approach is instead of confronting, contact and communicate your misgivings. The Internet tends to bring the rich and mighty at the same level as an unemployed youth with just an Internet connection. Therefore it is always advisable to pull your punches. Most people are reasonable enough to understand your point (that is, if your point is reasonable enough) and in most cases agree to what you requested for. The other approaches should be used only as a last resort, though I am quite against contacting an employer to ask an employee take off some content that he/she has put up as a private individual.

Taking an offensive stance can very easily backfire and once its goes viral that is little that can quell it. Therefore play sweet, play safe.