Next Digital

Media firm fined over copied news

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 05 August, 2011, 12:00am


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The company running Apple Daily's website admitted failing to supervise its staff as it was fined HK$40,000 for copying articles from the internet.

Imposing the penalty on Next Media Interactive, Magistrate Gary Lam Kar-yan criticised two reporters who copied news articles from another media organisation for taking short cuts.

A representative of Next Media Interactive pleaded guilty to eight offences in Eastern Court. Lam fined the company HK$5,000 for each count.

In mitigation, a defence lawyer said it was not company policy to allow its reporters to copy news articles online. But the lawyer admitted the company failed to closely supervise the reporters.

The lawyer said the two involved were fired after the incident.

The copyright owner was not named.

Lam said that in the internet era people should be careful about sources of information, and how information obtained from a third party was used.

The magistrate accepted that the media organisation did not authorise the plagiarism by the two reporters but stressed that as an employer, it had a duty to ensure its employees' actions were lawful and in accordance with responsible journalism.

Hong Kong Journalists Association chairwoman Mak Yin-ting said that although it was tempting and easy to cut and paste news from websites, journalists should abide by their professional ethics and not do it.

'Even though it is very handy to simply copy information as such, not all the news posed on websites is accurate. It is the duty of journalists to verify the news before they decide to have it published,' Mak said.

Next Media Interactive was originally charged with 33 counts of distributing and infringing copyrighted work. But the prosecution offered no evidence on 25 counts.