KIEV, Ukraine -- In Ukraine, just like in some other post-Soviet countries, the idea of copyright and intellectual property law is still a very vague term that doesn’t mean much to entrepreneurs and consumers.
Not surprising since it seems that even people holding high official positions at the government don’t respect the copyright law, even the Ukrainian president himself.
For Viktor Yanukovych, according to some media outlets that have made an effort to investigate the issue, it was easy to take someone else’s text for his book The Opportunity Ukraine.
But now he’s giving everything he’s taken back to the people, but in the form of a good deed.
On April 15, Yanukovych declared that the profits from his books sales – some modest $2 million – would be used exclusively to help sick people, and primarily, children.
There is a number of witty articles that highlight the dubiousness of the whole thing and attempt to prove that it’s impossible for the president, who’s never been known as a best-selling author, to make such money in book sales.
There were repeated articles and opinion posts in both Ukrainian and international media not long ago, accusing President Yanukovych of plagiarism for his book.
Ukrainska Pravda has found that the descriptions of Yanukovych’s travels to Singapore and Brunei were extracted from articles written by various journalists without their permission and without referencing those original sources, as well as other examples of plagiarism.
In Ukraine it’s not uncommon for people to download and share music and video files illegally, copy and sell movies, reprint images, translate and republish articles, and open shops that use branding of famous companies like Starbucks, McDonalds, and Ikea.
As President, Yanukovych sets the tone for the rest of the country.
Until that changes, Ukrainians will keep making illegal copies of anything they can , and Ukrainian politicians will keep plagiarizing famous books and speeches, just like when Ukrainian defense secretary, Raisa Bogatyreva used Steve Job’s Stanford Speech as her own.
If the allegations of Yanukovych’s plagiarism are true, his philanthropic gesture seems semi-sincere and downright bizarre: he’s donating profits from a book he’s either partially borrowed without asking, or hasn’t written at all.