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Copyright law insufficient if authors aren't ethical

Dear Editor,

Regarding the article "Copyright handbook targets sellers, producers" printed in The Phnom Penh Post on April 6: I absolutely agree with the ministries of culture and commerce regarding the crackdown on violators of intellectual property law and on the decision to distribute copyright handbooks to educate sellers and producers.

It has taken many years to implement this copyright law. The law supports authors' efforts to spend their time and use their ideas to produce quality new productions. For this issue, however, I think that sometimes it is very difficult to complain about the law when writers so often steal ideas from other authors without reference. I have two experiences to share.  

First last month, there was a small plagiarism controversy between two journalists working at the same company. One of them writes for a bulletin and the other writes for a newspaper. The bulletin writer wrote about my research study, and two weeks later, the newspaper journalist described my research. But the last two paragraphs of the newspaper looked like a copy-and-paste from the bulletin.

Before publication, the bulletin writer informed the newspaper editor, "Please let your journalist revise the two last paragraphs, which overlap with my previous article in the bulletin."

But the newspaper editor told him not to worry about it and just edited the language. The bulletin writer felt angry and upset about the plagiarism. From my point of view, I am so glad that the two journalists wrote about my accomplishments and my portrait. But I felt disappointed to hear about the plagiarism controversy. In this case, we don't need to waste time complaining about the law, but we just need to respect professional ethics.  

Second, I recently took part in an art exhibition, and I saw two paintings by different painters. I told my friend, a collage artist, "Hey, have a look at the two pictures which were approximately the same as your old piece, including their decors." I asked my friend if he thought they stole his ideas and style. He said yes, but he hesitated to confront the two artists, and he didn't want to complain. He just said it was a shame.

In my opinion, while it is good these artists have taken the initiative to join the art exhibition, they should not violate the intellectual property of someone in the same profession.

The implementation of the copyright law is not enough. We also need all authors to have wisdom and to recognise the importance of being

ethical writers.

Tong Soprach

Phnom Penh

Send letters to: newsroom@phnompenhpost.com or P.O.鈥圔ox 146, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The Post reserves the right to edit letters to a shorter length.

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