Vietnam bans blogs from reposting news articles

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Vietnamese citizens are allowed to share links to news articles on their blogs, but not copy and paste whole reports on their pages, an official has told VnExpress online newspaper.

Hoang Vinh Bao, director of the Broadcast and Electronic Information Department, made the statement in response to public upset over the government's latest decree that bans bloggers from "collecting" news articles on their blogs.

After the decree was announced on July 31, many people believed the ban meant that they were not even allowed to share links to news articles on their personal pages like Facebook.

However, in the interview with VnExpress, Bao said people are permitted to copy and paste an excerpt from a news article and share its link, or share the link only.

They can make comments on that article on their personal pages, and are responsible for the comments, he said.

According to Bao, people are "definitely" prohibited from posting a whole news article on their personal pages, even if they get permission from the newspaper that publishes the article, or note the source's name at the end of the article they copy.

Under the latest decree, only the news websites of organizations and businesses are allowed to re-post news articles along with the names of their sources. Such websites, however, are not real news agencies and their staffs are not allowed to work like reporters.

Bao said that if people want to collect news articles on their personal pages, they need to meet certain requirements to transform their pages into news websites, like establishing a business or an organization.

"If each blog owner [wants to] copy news articles from here and there, his or her page will [have to] become a private newspaper, or news website," he said. Each kind of site is subject to different management rules, he said.

But, the official also admitted that there is a gap between theory and reality, when asked about the fact that there are numerous blogs quoting news articles in Vietnam.

Authorities are aware of the gap and will soon propose punishments for such violations, Bao said.

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