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23.06.2012 19:15

Old New Problem - Plagiarism

Maia Tsiklauri
Media Discusions

Two years ago I wrote an article for Presa.ge about school-bags with too heavy school books.  “Childhood is hard – what’s the weight of a school-bag? – this was the title of the article which became of interest to televisions on the same day.  Maestro and Rustavi 2 prepared video-reports about the topic based on my article; although the two reports were completely different from each other by content and ethical viewpoint. 

Maestro indicated that the report was based on an article by Presa.ge and showed coinciding footage, but did not name the author.  So, the fact that the report was in fact a visual twin of my article did not irritate me, probably also because it was not the first such case in my practice.  Still, report by Rustavi 2 made me really angry; first of all due to the fact that conclusion made by me after working on the article was distorted in it. 

French Court would have responded to the given fact adequately for sure and would probably decide that the soul of article has been lost due to such transformation.  Like the year 1985 when Paris Court of Appeals issued a verdict on the case LeonideZorinevs Theatre du Lucernaile.  The case concerned an absolutely non-political play, which was staged in the theatre by political context.  The Court made a verdict in favor of the author of the play and announced the following:  although a director must give a life to a play on stage; he is an artist and has the freedom of interpretation, but in this case the essence/soul of Leonide Zorine’s play was lost. 

France is one of the rare exceptions where copyright is highly protected.  Even initially the first document protecting copyright – the Bern Convention for Protection of Literature and Art Works adopted on 9 September 1886 – was developed by initiative and direct participation of French classics – Hugo, Balzac, and Flaubert.  The main concern for these great writers was plagiarism and originality of an artwork was determined as the main criteria for copyright. 

Media law expert LikaSajaia says that plagiarism is regulated by Georgian legislation also, although there are some details that must be considered, as they may not speak in favor of an author during court trial.  According to her, Georgian Law on Copyright and Related Rights allows it when work can be reproduced by newspapers-magazines, or publicized without consent from and payment of fee to an author, or other owner of copyright. 

“Those are:  ongoing economic, political, social and religious issues.  Other media sources have the right to reproduce, or publicize works without consent from author only in case if reproduction or publicizing is not specially restricted by an author, or copyright holder,” Lika Sajaia says.  “This means if you do not you’re your work to be used even by indication of your name despite content and purpose of usage of a journalistic material; you must indicate it at apparent place in the media outlet. 

Plagiarism in Georgian media, especially in Internet-media (as it is easy to copy materials from it) is a real problem.  Netgazeti journalist TazoKupreishvili on 23 June even opened a special page on Facebook – Plagiarism in Media – All the Facts are Gathered Here.  According to Netgazeti editor Maia Metskhvarishvili plagiarism is so frequent that if Netgazeti responds to all of them will have to spend all the time in courts.  Last such fact happened when for.ge journalist used Netgazeti exclusive material. 

“I spent much energy to prepare this material, searching for facts,” Maia Metskhvarishvili told media.ge.  “For.ge journalist took whole parts of it; copied the most important portions and used commentaries.  They could use our article, but they should have indicated the source.”  The incident between Netgazeti and for.ge completed with agreement between editors.  For.ge editor completely considered Netgazeti claims and promised to indicate the source. 

LikaSajaia stressed that in case of plagiarism is detected and parties fail to negotiate the victim party must appeal to court, as none of other structures are authorized to react to violation of copyright.  She also said that it has to be remembered that copyright law protects just the form of expression and not the content of a work, information, fact, or idea reflected in it, as all those are protected by other part of law. 

ElisoJanashia, tspress editor plans to appeal to court.  She believes that Tabula has violated property rights of her Internet publication and copyright rights of her photo-reporters.  The case concerns exclusive photographs made by tspress journalist which were published by Tabula.  Tabula editor Tamar Chergoleishvili stated that Tabula took photos from Youtube and there was no indication of an author, while ElisoJanashia says that Tabula knew who the author of photos was before that, as it circulated the given exclusive information along with one photo and indication of source in several hours after the material was published by tspress. 

Media law expert explains that during dispute must be differed the publication (property) and copyright rights – for different types of violations of copyright rights both administrative and criminal responsibilities, although all this concerns non-property rights of authors and accordingly plagiarism.  

“We can protect ourselves against plagiarism by civil legal way,” LikaSajaia stresses – “In this case author can request the following:  recognition of right; recreation of the condition that was before the right was violated and restriction of activities that violate his right; compensation for loss, including not-received revenue; instead of compensation for loss, to seize the revenue that the violator received as result of violating the right.  In case if due to plagiarism have been violated person’s right for name, dignity, honor, or professional reputation than the author can request compensation for moral loss.” 

In the context of these possibilities it is also interesting that Georgian legislation does not determine how can an author prove his truth; it is not determined what evidences must be presented to court.  This kind of evidences may be date of publication of material, date of saving of document in a computer, date of sending of material to e-mail, differing with each specific case.  

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