Vietnam to clamp down on copyright infringement

A clampdown on the infringement of copyright throughout Vietnam is expected to follow new instructions by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung. Dung has asked ministers, heads of ministry-level agencies, Government agencies and chairmen of provincial people committees and centrally-administered cities to lay out detailed measures for more effective copyright protection.

This complies with a Prime Ministerial request in instruction No 36/2008/CT-TTg to strengthen the implementation of copyright and the protection of related rights.

The tightening up was announced on Jan. 7 by Vu Manh Chu, Director General of the Copyright Office of Vietnam (COV). His office comes under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

Chu said copyright violations occurred in many fields, particular in music, literature, computer programmes and television broadcasts.

“The violations have negative effects on creative activities, the investment environment, economic, social and cultural development – and the nation’s integration into the world economy,” Chu said.

“The main causes of (infringement) are that organisations and individuals have little awareness of copyright and related rights,” he said, adding that blame could also be placed on the weak capacity of some authorities in implementing copyright protection.

Under the new instruction, in the first quarter of this year the Culture 

Ministry must make comprehensive checks on the implementation of copyright and related rights in production, business and services sectors.

Chu said that the focus would be on sectors where many violations caused serious damage to organisations, individuals and investors.

The ministry was entrusted with following and supervising the implementation of the new instruction. It will report annually to the Prime Minister on progress as well as any difficulties faced in implementation, and proposals to rectify them.

Under the new measures, the Ministry of Finance must ask customs officials to prevent any imports or exports violating copyright laws, particularly on computer and recorded programmes.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade has also been asked to introduce strict punishments for organisations and individuals involved in circulating pirated goods.

Vietnamese diplomats posted in foreign countries have also been asked to collect information on protecting copyright and related rights so that they can give advice to Vietnamese organisations and individuals.

And universities, junior colleges and professional schools have been told to introduce lectures on copyright and related rights.

In 2008, inspectors investigated 20 cultural copyright violations and set penalties worth a total of 255 million VND (14,600 USD).

Also in 2008, the Vietnam Centre for Protection of Music Copyright collected 11 billion VND (857,000 USD) for the legal use of copyrighted music. This year, it hopes to collect at least 1 million USD, Chu said.-Enditem