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Germany gets tough on online plagiarism

The internet has made stealing content easy, but more German businesses and individuals are starting to wage war against growing online plagiarism.

Germany gets tough on online plagiarism
Photo: DPA

And there will likely be more severe legal consequences as ideas of intellectual property adapt to the web, Hamburg-based company Textguard told The Local on Friday.

“Believe me, much more is copied than you can imagine, we find this with every search,” the company’s founder Claus-Michael Gerigk said. “One example is a poet we worked with, though she was not particularly well-known, a search on 600 of her texts revealed the same number of unauthorised copies.”

Gerigk has developed a search tool for publishers, newspapers, authors and universities that can meticulously go through up to 1,000 texts per hour. While Gerigk called the algorithms his software uses “old,” he said Textguard is the forerunner in offering the accompanying service of legal advice for those who discover their song lyrics, poems, articles, books and other texts have been plagiarised.

The company takes approximately 50 percent of whatever monetary compensation their lawyers get from plagiarism cases – effectively making Textguard a bounty hunter in what German weekly Die Zeit called a new movement to “end the Wild West mentality of the internet” on Friday.

The paper wrote that Textguard and competitors like Attributor are serving an increasing number of German publishers who have discovered that they can get cash from the copiers.

“What’s changing is the idea that everything on the internet is free,” Gerigk told The Local. “There is a trend where people are beginning to recognise the value of their intellectual property.”

And plagiarism can be expensive, ranging from a few hundred euros to the “five-digit level,” Karlsruhe copyright infringement lawyer Peter Nümann told Die Zeit.

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MEDIA

Head of German public broadcaster quits over sleaze allegations

A prominent German journalist on Thursday resigned as chair of the board of Germany's ARD broadcaster after being accused of awarding controversial consultancy contracts and misusing public funds.

Head of German public broadcaster quits over sleaze allegations

“The public discussion about decisions and procedures… that fall within my area of responsibility has now extended to ARD as a whole,” Patricia Schlesinger said in a statement.    

Schlesinger is the head of Berlin radio station RBB, a regional member of the ARD network – one of the world’s biggest TV and radio networks.    

The 61-year-old took up the chairmanship of the ARD network earlier this year under a rotational system.  

 According to ARD, Schlesigner has been under fire over consultancy contracts awarded at RBB, which she has headed since 2016.    

Some German media have also accused her of using a company car for private trips and paying for meals at home with licence fee money.    

Schlesinger said she was giving up her chairmanship of ARD in order to help “shed light on the accusations.”    

ARD has an annual budget of almost 7 billion euros, financed mainly by a licence fee.    

It employs around 23,000 people at nine regional channels, which also produce national programmes, and one channel aimed at an international audience. 

READ ALSO: Germany’s state leaders give green light to raise TV tax

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