The problem of plagiarism is serious in Armenia, both in the academic and media realms. The rector of a state university is appointed by a person who has received a degree in plagiarism. In order to regulate the culture of “copy-paste” in the media field, in 2013 an amendment was made to the law on copyright, defining the conditions of use of news material.
That is, the material can be reprinted in a volume that justifies the purpose of the quote, which should not reveal the essential part of the news material. Also, it is obligatory to give an active link (in the case of websites), to mention the name of the source in the title, etc.
However, the cases when the news outlet reprints the post of the social media user, the author of which took the facts from another source and left no mention of it, are not regulated by law.
Such cases are regular with the Facebook user Robert Hayrapetyan.
He publishes facts taken from other sources, which are reprinted by news websites. Hayrapetyan is presented in the press as a lawyer, he is brought on as a guest in the studio of a TV company with a large audience.
Case 1: The facts were taken from a publication on media.am.
On January 21, Robert Hayrapetyan referred to Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s statement about the captives of the Armenian side being held in Azerbaijan. Only these edited 5 paragraphs of evaluative expressions were Hayrapetyan’s. The facts, the collected data and the formations are completely taken from media.am’s January 20 publication “Pashinyan Manipulates The Data On Repatriated Prisoners.” Let’s compare:
As a result of this edit, one important fact had been left out: 26 of the repatriates since the 2000s were from the Armenian side. Hayrapetyan posted a screenshot of one of the messages of the International Committee of the Red Cross, which was included in our material’s active links.
We collected the data in Media.am’s fact-checking material in the summer of 2020, studying the ICRC press releases for several days.
Hayrapetyan did not mention the source of the data he quoted in any way. This post and the available data were spread on his behalf by a number of websites: 168.am, lurer.com, panorama.am, news.am, aysor.am, ankakh.com, alternativ.am, 4news.am, hayeli.am, irakanum.am, iravunk.com, onnet.am. They also reprinted the mushroom websites: newshub.am, armenia24.live, yerevan24.am etc.
Some of the media outlets posted links to the reprints in the comments of Robert Hayrapetyan’s publication. He was also grateful.
Case 2: The facts were taken from a publication of hetq.am.
3 paragraphs of the 5-paragraph publication were reprinted from this material, again without respect for copyright. Let’s compare again:
This post has 374 likes and has been shared 411 times as of January 22, 12:00.
This was also spread by a number of websites: 7or.am, yerkir.am, politeconomy.org, alternativ.am, artsakh.news, zham.am, 4news.am, etc. Hayrapetyan again thanked the websites that reprinted and referenced the material in the comments.
The author of the Hetq.am article, Tatev Khachatryan, posted about this in the Facebook “Media Literacy” group. She raised the issue of referencing the source.
Case 3: The content was taken from the message of the RA Prosecutor’s Office
With the same approach of Robert Hayrapetyan, on November 25, excerpts from the message spread by the Prosecutor’s Office of Armenia were reprinted, leaving out the name of the structure from all places.
6 out of 8 paragraphs of the publication are direct quotes from the message. In it, the organization stated that sufficient objective evidence had been obtained to identify the killing, torture and ill-treatment of Armenian prisoners of war and civilians in Azerbaijan.
Hayrapetyan left only the descriptive parts of the cases, adding a comment at the beginning and at the end. The data collected by the Prosecutor’s Office was spread on behalf of this user by ankakh.com, alternativ.am, hayeli.am, zham.am and other websites.
This is not all
Robert Hayrapetyan sometimes gives references, for example, when quoting the statement of Colonel-General Movses Hakobyan. But again, without giving a link to the source, he posted the video spread by pastinfo.am on his page. He reiterated the website’s assertion that “Azerbaijani military units are accumulating in the mountains of Jermuk: They will build a military unit.” The mayor of Jermuk denied this news and clarified the place and circumstances of the video.
As can be seen from the active links, a number of websites regularly publish Hayrapetyan’s posts. Some also publish what is written in rude vocabulary without editing.
Media.am has previously referred to the Armenian tradition of reposting social media posts. Wrote that the role of the media repeater with Facebook does not allow to clearly distinguish between the news and the social network, and puts a sign of equality between them.
But in the case of Robert Hayrapetyan, the reprints stimulate the spread of plagiarism. It turns out that some people work, investigate, and another person becomes the author of the work done, an influential person on social media, whose content taken from other sources without a link turns into publications in the media.