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Vietnam press leaders declare war on copyright violation

Thursday, January 29, 2015, 14:32 GMT+7

Vietnamese newspaper leaders expressed their resolve to combat rampant copyright infringements at a seminar in Ho Chi Minh City on Wednesday.

The event was jointly organized by the U.S. Consulate General in the city and the Vietnam Journalists Association.

Joseph Freeman, an Information Officer from the U.S. Consulate General, cited an example that a news item authored by Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper was carried on other local newswires 35 times within 24 hours from the time it was first published by the proprietor last year. 

Le Xuan Trung, Tuoi Tre’s General Managing Editor, said that his newspaper’s exclusive articles have been frequently copied by other news outlets without its prior consent.

An exclusive investigative feature which shed light on two private babysitters physically abusing the young children they were taking care of was published on Tuoi Tre Online – the news website of Tuoi Tre – early last year, Trung said.

Around 10 newswires copied the feature and ran it with or without citing the source 10 minutes after it appeared on Tuoi Tre Online, he added.

Some also made additions to the title and content as if the feature were their own work, Trung complained.

“There’re instances when we have yet to publish our articles which have just come out in print on our online edition, several other newswires had published them after having their staff type the entire stories,” he added.

All the newswires’ representatives did was make some apologies and empty promises of no further violations.     Le Quoc Minh, editor-in-chief of Vietnamplus, an affiliate of the Vietnam News Agency, added that many news websites even set the publishing times of their plagiarized articles up to 12 hours earlier than those of the original stories.

Meanwhile, Huynh Dung Nhan, editor-in-chief of Nghe Bao (Journalism Profession) Magazine, pointed to articles with false and exaggerated details, adding that several newspapers, particularly newswires, have purposefully overlooked press agencies’ rule of thumb of delving into the truth before writing about it with a view to gaining profit.

Freeman, from the U.S. Consulate General, stressed press copyright violation can totally be controlled, in many ways.

He suggested different approaches, including requesting Google to specify the articles’ original links and remove the copied stories’ links.

Violators can also be taken to court, many said at the workshop.

However, some pointed out that leaders of several newspapers whose works are blatantly copied may turn a blind eye to the breaches committed by their colleagues.

“Newspapers can’t put on a uniform of copying one another. There’s no way readers can accept that,” Trung, of Tuoi Tre, underscored.

He added Tuoi Tre has been working on a plan to safeguard its copyright by giving warnings to violators and insisting they pay royalties.

The newspaper has also worked with local law firms to take legal action against repeat violators.

It earned VND2.4 billion (US$111,846) in royalties last year, Trung said.

Many also suggested at the meeting that hi-tech techniques should be applied to stall copyright infringement, which may pose inconvenience to readers.

Trung added that in Tuoi Tre staff’s experience, content in the form of infographics is more difficult to be copied. Minh came forward with a strongly supported proposal that newspaper leaders form a union and pledge not to commit copyright violations.

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