Reflections and stories on six months of life, culture, food and friendship in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Blog Plagiarism

It is a great irony that after six months of teaching information literacy in Vietnam I become the victim of information piracy. Thanks to Technorati's link tracing feature I discovered my blog postings are being reproduced hollus bollus without attribution at this and this blog. And an even greater irony - one of the addresses is "vietnamofmine.blogspot...". Just who's experience is this?

To be fair, at least the first of Mr. Trang's blogs is called "Learning English By Other's Blog Posts". I'm very happy to let my writing be used for teaching purposes, but what about asking permission or setting up some context at the very least? And why not just use my original blog for this purpose rather than filching it?

I will admit to some ambivalence about all the flagrant intellectual property abuses that are rife in Vietnam and other Asian countries. When it comes to CDs and DVDs, the letter of the law would probably mean that the vast majority of people in Vietnam would have virtually no access to recorded music and film. It's not like Disney and Sony are yet being cheated of vast reserves of Vietnamese disposable income. But this strain of piracy carries over into so many cultural enterprises. It hardly seems necessary to pilfer content in a blog. My blog is already free. Just use it where you find it. And isn't it teacher's responsibility also to teach respect for other's work?

I have left comments on Mr. Trang's blog in the hopes that he will respond out of conscience (or write me at sixmonthshn AT gmail DOT com). At least he seems to have brought me out blog retirement.

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Anonymous Jonathan Bailey said...

First off, I am very sorry to hear about your plagiarism problems. I'm afraid this is sadly typical in this day and age.

However, I think I can help you get the blog postings removed. I've had a great deal of luck in dealing with Google on such matters (I've shut down over 400 of my own plagiarists) and would be glad to help.

Feel free to send me an email using the contact form on my site if you want any assistance. I also have an article entitled "Google, the DMCA and You" that is a needed read.

Hope that you're able to get this resolved!

9:29 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I accidentally found your blog through and found it very hard to take when somebody copied your work or displayed it without your permission. However, I think the problem is they will never understand what "plagiarism" mean.

I am a Vietnamese myself and studying abroad in the U.S. Here we're taking it very serious about intellectual property laws. But in Vietnam, the goverment has not made a great effort to enforced it to stop people from stealing copyright works from others.

If they find out about some records have been illigally distributed, they would make you pay the fine. However, if an artist comes down to the store down the street and sees his works being pirated and distributed widely, he couldn't sue the store --- well, he could, but he already knows that even the government didn't make such a great effort to enforce their citizens to take intellectual properties seriously, then what would happen if he files a complaint?

The answer is that you might already knew it. It would take him forever to get this case solved and many other stores around will open on the next day selling the same pirated records of his.

My point is that it would take such great enforcement and serious penalty from the authorities to get the people to learn about intellectual property laws. THIS WOULD TAKE YEARS TO GET IT DONE.

And the people who are involed in this are taking these information available online for granted. I bet it has never occurred to them that they are plagirising.

I doubt that the guy who stole your works will respond to your comments.

6:22 PM

Blogger HanoiMark said...

Thanks for your comments Anonymous.

You are right about the almost impossible task of trying to enforce intellectual property law in VN. Sisyphus comes to mind. However, there are some differences between intellectual property and plagiarism. Intellectual property laws are generally about protecting the profit of the copyright (or patent) holder. Those who make illegal copies of CDs and DVDs etc. do not pretend to be the authors of those works. We still know it's an album by Madonna when it's an illegal copy.

Plagiarists on the other hand are not usually after the profit; they are instead stealing the claim of authorship. My blog is already free. I believe in Creative Commons and sharing ideas freely. All I want is that my material is acknowledged as mine. As far as I'm concerned this is an ethical issue, not a legal one.

So it's not just about how to enforce copyright laws. It's also about how to instill an ethics that respects authors regardless of profit. This is an educational goal, not just a legal one.

10:46 PM

Anonymous Brian said...

Is this not a `Blogger' issue?

I just realised the implications.

And, I just - completely seperately - wished I had been under the poncho.

5:08 PM


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