Nothing like plagiarism… and IP rights ignored

Plagiarism seems to be a disease that is inherent here in Ukraine, and not even just here! Now before all you Ukrainophiles, jump down my throat for being anti-Ukrainian let me continue.

Have you ever been on the Kyiv metro? For those of you who have, you have most likely seen the advertisements for term papers, theses and the like! And you can purchase all of these for a price. Sure similar services have sprung up worldwide since the advent of the WWW created by Tim Berners Lee, but the wide extent that this exists not only in Ukraine’s capital, but throughout the country, can only lead to the degradation of society as a whole.

Those who follow Ukrainian politics can surely remember the case of Volodymyr Lytvyn, who had completely plagiarized an article originally by Thomas Carothers published in the 1998 Winter edition of Foreign Policy.

The plagiarism by public officials clearly erodes public trust in them, but what does that have to do with the music industry in Ukraine, readers may ask. It has everything to do with it, as well as those who purportedly provide insight to the industry.

Over a year ago I was listening to one of the local Kyiv radio stations, and it was not long before I heard at least three songs that were clearly ripped off melodies. One of these was a song by Scriabin, in which the very catchy melody of Peter Gabriel’s Games without Frontiers simply mixed into the song, and their were others, but that is one that stuck in my head.

Though this is not the only instance that touches on the realm of intellectual property. A number of years ago my friend Myroslav Levytsky, noted that a film which had been produced simply used his compositions as part of a soundtrack to a documentary film. Recently, a TV show aired on Tonis on the green tourism used the music of another musician and group I know well, and while they don’t exist any more, they still hold the rights to the material and should be compensated for its use. In neither of these cases was there reference to the music, the composer or band which holds the copyright. Surprisingly enough, one of the productions was done in the west, by our diaspora. However, there was a case of a young film maker from New York who about a year and a half ago asked me to speak to Foma of Mandry to use a 15 second piece of one of their songs. Foma, agreed after I told him of the subject matter, the song, and how much would be used, including mention in the credits at the end. How civilized and professional for a change!

Now back to the material that caught my eye! But before I continue I must digress. Back in 1999 when I arrived in Ukraine, I would frequent a place called the Cowboy Club on Passage in downtown Kyiv. Currently, this same locale houses Dockers ABC.

There I got to know the members of a band called Unity. The lead vocalist was a woman named Gaytana. There were many nights that I sat with the band after their sets and often left at the crack of dawn. Time passed and the Cowboy Club shut down. Later I would run into Gaytana at Art Club 44 on Jazz nights on Sundays. Over the years we became friends, and in the spring of 2003 or 2004, after not seeing her for a long time, I had been cast for video shoot for Marija Burmaka’s song Dity Sontsya which Marika, and kindly gifted to Gaytana. Unfortunately, Eddy Klym of Lavina Music’s ego somehow nixed the video, even though have earlier agreed with the concept and took an hour or two out of his busy schedule to bring his daughter down for the shoot on the banks of the Dnipro River, early on an April Saturday morning. It was cut down from a creative piece, to a piece concentrating on T&A, primarily those of Gaytana.

So it would come as no surprise to you dear readers, that when I saw the blog entry Gaitana (Part I) on Ukrainian Musical Matters it caught my eye.

As I read the material, and as an information specialist/librarian by training and knowing the style of writing of many publications in Kyiv having worked in journalism here, I wasn’t so concerned about the material, but as to its source. Clearly, Orest at Ukrainian Musical Matters didn’t have lunch with Gaytana at the Soho Steak House. So as I went through the article I was waiting for some type of citation. I found none! So here it is! The material was originally published in What’s On a Kyiv-based publication.

So Orest, please explain to us all your position of ethics, IP rights and the rest! After our last little foray into the politics of language, and you clarifying to me who you are, I am starting to think that maybe plagiarism is genetic. Though it could have been simply an honest mistake!