Friday, January 19, 2007

Malaysian Bloggers Sued

Am deeply shocked by the news that Malaysian Bloggers Jeff Ooi and Rocky aka Ahirudin Attan are to be sued by the New Straits Times over their whistle-blowing re. former editor Brendan Pereira's (alleged - let's play safe, no matter what one really feels) plagiarism of a Mitch Albom article.

All I intend to say about the case here is that I feel that it is really sad that the whole issue could not have been handled without gun-slingers needing to turn up at high noon. But then it really is, as BBC correspondent Jonathan Kent said earlier, a case of new vs. old media. There's a subtext, and it's one all bloggers should tune into.

Lim Kit Siang agrees:
As these are the first two cases of Malaysian bloggers being sued for defamation, it will have far-reaching consequences for the healthy, mature and democratic growth for free speech and expression, not only on the Internet but in the country as a whole.
It's not often I plug a law book on this blog but might I suggest that all parties purchase and read immediately Richard A. Posner's newly published The Little Book of Plagiarism which the New York Times describes as "a useful and remarkably concise overview of the subject". The book sets out to address such questions as:
... what exactly is plagiarism? How has the meaning of this notoriously ambiguous term changed over time as a consequence of historical and cultural transformations? Is the practice on the rise, or just more easily detectable by technological advances? How does the current market for expressive goods inform our own understanding of plagiarism? Is there really such a thing as “cryptomnesia,” the unconscious, unintentional appropriation of another’s work? What are the mysterious motives and curious excuses of plagiarists?
and most importantly in this case:

What forms of punishment and absolution does this “sin” elicit?

Also go read Rocky's blog (and he's looking for a lawyer to represent him).


YTSL said...

Is Richard A. Posner's book available in Malaysian bookstores or will one have to order it from such as Amazon?

A little bit more about plagiarism and/or outright content theft: Have been told by an ex-newspaper journalist that members of the Malaysian print media tend to assume that *all* materials on the internet are public domain materials and consequently can be used sans acknowledgement, etc.

And on a related note: Have personally discovered that certain supposed professionals within the Malaysian media can't do such as distinguish between press releases and bona fide articles... :(

bibliobibuli said...

nothing you say surprises me

but there have to be standards of professionalism ... and the public should insist on them. after all we pay for the bloody newspapers! it is simple laziness to take shortcuts such as lifting without acknowledgment as well as plain bad manners. that btw isn't defamation, it's simple fact.

the book is just out and probably not one that would appeal to large numbers so safer to buy from amazon - i intend to (it's in my shopping basket going up in price as we speak, no doubt)

Ruhayat X said...

Notwithstanding the details of this case (which, really, is of no interest to me), Mr Kit Siang - and other free speech advocates - would do well to add a little something that is missing from his enlightened statement that you have quoted, Sharon: "accountability".

Blog what you like, but if someone calls you on it, better be prepared to stand up for it.

Good to see the long arm of the lawhhh reaching out into cyberspace. As much as journos reputedly claim Internet materials as public domain, so have bloggers been feeling a little bit immune from persecution, leading some to think of themselves invincible, if not downright omnipotent.

bibliobibuli said...

i haven't been following all the politics of the postings on jeff and rocky's blogs and as someone reminded me yesterday, hey it's not just about the plagiarism accusation - that's probably a minor part of it.

i agree with you that we all must be prepared to stand up for what we write on out blogs.

one also hopes that the legal process is well-conducted and that jeff and rocky will have the resources to launch a good defence

animah said...

Sharon, you've been Jeff Ooi'd again.
Jeff has a very very good lawyer representing him. Not sure about Rocky.
I agree with Ruhayat X on the issue of accountability. We should stand by what we say. We should have facts to support the statements we make.
What is frightening however is the intimidation tactic the NST is adopting. Why are they not suing the BBC who also made the plagarism accusation? BBC has far wider reach than either Jeff or Rocky.
It is good that this is happening. Jeff and Rocky are, I believe bold enough to see this through, and raise an awareness among the Malaysian public of the importantance of free speech.

bibliobibuli said...

i have been both jeffoied and daftoied today ... and i thought it was my eloquence, beauty and charisma driving the number of hits today.

bibliobibuli said...

to add:

We should stand by what we say. yes, for sure

We should have facts to support the statements we make.

of course. but actually the plagiarism accusation is really a conversation about shades of grey. very legally tricky to define and quantify, i would have thought.

Eddie Law said...

I admire the command of English you have.

bibliobibuli said...

many thanks. i guess being a native spaeker gives me a head start. but i have a lot of fun when i write playing with words.