On February 13, the consideration of the suit of a major Armenian bank, HSBC-Armenia, versus “Golos Armenii” and “Yerkir” newspapers started at the RA Commercial Court. The plaintiff demanded to refute the information disseminated on October 29, 2001 by “Noyan Tapan” news agency and published the next day by the two editions. According to “Noyan Tapan” piece, Ruben Hakobian, the author of the Armenian “Artarumian” fonts used in software, filed a suit against HSBC-Armenia on the violation of the copyright and demanded a compensation of $10,000. The accusation of computer piracy was based on the bank’s use of non-licensed fonts as a software product, as well as a type set in its advertising production: billboards, booklets, etc.
As Yerevan Press Club was told by the Chief Editor of “Golos Armenii” Flora Nakhshkarian, the claims of HSBC-Armenia to the newspapers are unjustified: “The bank thinks that the Chief Editor bears personal responsibility and is obliged to verify the information disseminated by the news agencies. Through this logic, I must verify the pieces of Reuters, Associated Press, etc.” Moreover, the plaintiff demanded that a refutation be published by the newspapers specifically, motivating the demand by the fact that a news agency is not a mass medium. This statement was at least surprising not only for the journalistic community but also, as the Chief Editor noted, the representatives of State Register, “who gave us a certificate of having registered ‘Noyan Tapan’ as a mass communications medium”.
The RA Law “On Press and Other Media Outlets”, adopted in 1991, fails to give a distinct definition to the subject of this dispute. However, even the simplest legal rationale and the international practice show that the newspapers are not obliged to publish a refutation for the information disseminated by a news agency.
The respondents are to present the statutes of their newspapers at the next session on February 18.