Copyright Enforcement: New law would make plagiarism a misdemeanor

Through legislative changes law-makers and media experts in Armenia hope to restrain unscrupulous reporters and media representatives who often resort to plagiarism or make improper use of the content produced by other news outlets without posting the reference to either the author or the news outlet.

On Monday the parliament discussed and Tuesday unanimously passed by first hearing the bill on amendments to the law on “Copyright and Related Rights” submitted by Republican faction MP Arpine Hovhannisyan. The law is co-authored by eight MPs from four factions of the National Assembly.

The authors say the bill aims at defining in detail the order of using articles (fully or partly) published by newspapers, magazines, periodicals and internet news websites.

Article 22 of the law puts restrictions on usage of another’s work, including properly identifying the source of the original content. Violators would face a fine of up to about $480.

Prior to the drafting of this law a number of media turned to self-regulatory measures by setting terms of cooperation trying this way to fight widespread abuse of copyright. And although editors have set terms of using one another’s production, reporters of Facebook group “For Conscientious Reporting” come across articles in other news outlets, where the fruit of their thought and efforts is stolen or copy-pasted without proper reference to the author or the website.

Head of the Freedom of Speech Protection Committee Ashot Melikyan told ArmeniaNow that the law is doubtlesssly going to need amendments.

“Nobody can claim for hundred percent that the law would act at its fullest capacity, but the fact that the reporter community was interested and initiated this process is a step aimed at making the field healthier. It is very important for those breaking copyright in their daily activities to straighten up and understand that it is forbidden by the law. It is important that precedents happen when breach of that law is punished, meaning if someone has violated the copyright of the given media reporter, s/he should sue the wrongdoer,” says Melikyan, stressing at the same time that he has noticed little positive change in the field after the editors' statement.