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Who’s to blame for newswires’ slanderous coverage?

Who’s to blame for newswires’ slanderous coverage?

Tuesday, April 09, 2013, 14:00 GMT+7

A local businesswoman recently requested Yahoo! Viet Nam to apologize to her for its slanderous article but Yahoo said it just reposted the article from another newspaper.

Duong Thi Bach Diep, director of the Real Estate Diep Bach Duong Co., said she planned to request Yahoo! Vietnam to make an official apology to her for its article titled “Opulent Vietnamese women are big spenders” as the article contained slanderous information about her.

Yahoo! refuted by saying that it republished the article from VietnamNet, another local popular newswire, as the two have reached a deal in which Yahoo! can repost VietnamNet’s articles and VietnamNet is held accountable for the content.

Shifting blame

Meanwhile, VietNamNet claimed that its staff didn’t pen the article, they, again, took it from afamily.vn owned by Vietnam Media Co. – VC Corp.

In turn, afamily.vn said it had copied and edited the article from an original piece titled “Shock at opulent Vietnamese women spending big money to draw attention” posted on the Tri Thuc Tre newswire.

After learning of Diep’s furious reactions, Yahoo! removed the article but it and VietnamNet denied responsibility.

According to lawyer Tran Hong Phong, the media is legally required not to post or circulate libelous articles.

In case of violations, the newspaper in question must correct the wrong information, apologize and make compensations if any.

Legally unacceptable

The incident isn’t an isolated case, as online Vietnamese newspapers typically repost articles authored by others.

According to Phong, the ‘reselling’ of articles, even though they have reached a deal to share information, is legitimately unacceptable and goes against the current regulations regarding press activities.

According to the Intellectual Right Law, individuals or organizations are required to request permission from the owner, pay money or perform other material rights to them.

Phong concluded that the fact that newswires or websites republish articles owned by another newswire without permission is a breach on the intellectual law.

The most worrying thing is that such violations are rampant and uncontrollable. The violators also go unpunished, Phong added.

“This is really dangerous, as it will erode creativity in the long term. Concerned agencies are also to blame here,” the lawyer stressed.

Reposting newswires held accountable 

Phong added that the newswire or website which repost articles or information are lawfully responsible for them, which is stipulated in several official legal documents.

The victim is entitled to file complaints against the newswire which posts the article without having to trace back to the original source.

That newswire is required by law to officially apologize and make material and mental compensations to the victim.

The current mental compensation rate at most is 10 months’ worth of basic salary. The violator also has to make material compensations commensurate with the material damage.

In other countries, a newspaper had to make compensations worth millions of USD for posting celebrities’ or politicians’ personal life-infringing photos.

Tuoi Tre

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