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Editors target copycat journos

121217 05

A vendor sells newspapers at a street-side stall in Phnom Penh last month. Photograph: Vireak Mai/Phnom Penh Post

Editer from a variety of news outlets are urging members of the media to obey copyright laws and stop using the work of others without proper accreditation.

Representing print, broadcast and website services, the editors convened at the Sunway Hotel on Thursday to sign a joint statement issued by the Club of Cambodian Journalists (CCJ) on journalistic ethics in the digital age.

The CCJ argues that breaches of copyright, which it says can be as simple as lifting paragraphs from another reporter’s story and passing it off as original content, violate freedom of the press, negatively affect businesses and could result in lawsuits.

Soy Sopheap, a well-known publisher and media figure, said Sunday that his peers should understand the business and its professional obligations before using another person’s work to advance their own careers.

“We are in the same field, and we want to see fair competition. And as professionals [working alongside each other], we don’t want to take legal action in accordance with copyright laws,” Sopheap said.

In his own career, Sopheap said, he has suspended staff members for more than a month for lifting copy from other news outlets.

“We are the editors-in-chief, and publishing might be wrong sometimes if we are careless in this industry, and we would be sued because our employees are stealing copy from others we don’t know,” Sopheap said during the meeting.

In one example, he asked a reporter to file a story from the provinces. When he received it, the wording was exactly the same as another story on a competing website. He said he removed it immediately.

Var Roth San, director of the intellectual property department at the Ministry of Commerce, said on Sunday the Kingdom implemented its copyright law in 2005, though it hasn’t been used among media members.

“[Copyright violations are] not 100 per cent necessary to resolve at court, which costs money and wastes time,” he said. “So far, I have not seen a single case yet, according to my daily monitoring of newspapers.”

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