CAIRO: Judge Abdul Fatah Mourad, head of the Court of Appeals in Alexandria, allegedly violated Intellectual Property Rights law, claim local civil society groups in.
In his recently-released book titled “Scientific and Legal Principles of Blogs , he included more than 50 pages from a report on Internet blogging issued by a well-known Egyptian human rights organization without citing references or sources, they argued.
“We are astonished by the unlawful practices of Dr Mourad. His book includes more than 50 pages directly copied from our report titled ‘Implacable Adversaries: Arab Governments and the Internet,’ published on Dec. 13, 2006. The book contains no references to sources or citations, Gamal Eid, executive director of the Cairo-based Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (HRInfo), expressed in anger.
According to Abdel Aziz Aïdaro, a lawyer specialized in Intellectual Property law, Mourad allegedly violated Articles 140 and 143 in the section titled “Copyright and Neighboring Rights of Law No. 82 of 2002.
“If these allegations are true, it would be really sad and frustrating to see a reputable and high ranking member of the country’s Judiciary committing such an infringement, considering that he should be enforcing these laws and protecting the rights of Egyptian people, Aziz Aïdaro told The Daily Star Egypt.
Numerous activist organizations, including the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, the Nadim Center, and Hisham Mubarak Law Center, signed a petition on Monday in solidarity with HRInfo, urging Mourad to ‘immediately correct the error’ and calling upon the Egyptian judiciary to take preventive measures to avoid a repetition.
“We highly appreciate that members of the Egyptian judiciary use the work and research published by human rights organizations. It is a crucial sign of respect for the ethics of writing and publishing, as well as for the law, which Dr Mourad is one of the people entrusted with, to cite references and sources, the undersigned organizations stated in a press release issued on Feb 12.
However, several human rights advocates view it as an unnecessary act to cause commotion around the judge in question, “who in the end only attempted to introduce better standards on freedom of expression and human rights in the book, they said.
“If the goal is to implement better human rights standards in the Egyptian legal system, then why does this plagiarism incident matter so much? an employee at a prominent international human rights organization who asked not to be identified told The Daily Star Egypt.
HRInfo emphasized that the incident would have been overlooked if it had been committed in good faith by an inexperienced researcher lacking substantial awareness of publishing rules, and not by a “prominent judge holding a PhD. in law and serving as a university professor. Eid added: “Dr Mourad committed this act in bad faith, which is clearly demonstrated at the beginning of his book where he states that this version is not copied and includes noviolations to author s rights.
According to Aziz Aïdaro, plagiarism is a widespread phenomenon in Egypt.
“People seem to think that they can get away with these things. Maybe it has to do with their lack of adequate awareness of publishing laws, but it is highly unlikely that those writing scholarly articles, books, and research papers would be unaware of the laws on copyright infringement, Aziz Aïdaro emphasized.
In yet another twist, Dr Mourad may come to play a significant role in the case of Kareem Amer, the Egyptian student blogger currently standing trial in Alexandria for criticizing Islam and President Mubarak on his Internet blog.
If Amer is given a guilty verdict, it is highly likely that the case will be brought to the Court of Appeals in Alexandria, headed by Mourad.
HRInfo will reportedly take the case to the public prosecutor and the Judicial Inspection Bureau unless Mourad ‘enlists the proper references and citations’.
“If judge Mourad did integrate any part of the report published by HRInfo without citing references, it would clearly be identified under the law as copyright infringement which could result in a sentence of imprisonment for one month and/or a fine of LE 5,000 to 10 000, Aïdaro said.
Despite numerous attempts made by The Daily Star Egypt, Mourad has been unreachable for comment.
The book at the heart of this controversy “Scientific and Legal Principles of Blogs, is accessible on his own Internet blog, www.drmourad.net.