Artists Wary of Ministry’s Call To Register Work

A Ministry of Culture official encouraged producers, composers and authors on Monday to reg­ister their creations with the ministry to protect them from copyright pirates.

“It is good for authors to register their products because if they are pirated those authors can file complaints to the court and they will have enough evidence,” Chuch Phoeurng, undersecretary of state at the ministry, said Monday. “If the authors do not register their products, the ministry cannot help them.”

Under the copyright law, adopted last year by the National As­sem­bly as a requirement for World Trade Organization membership, owners of copyrighted material may sue store owners who sell their products illegally. Penalties include up to a year in prison and a maximum fine of 25 million riel, or about $6,250.

Several movie producers said Monday, however, that they do not want to register their products because it requires handing over a copy to the ministry.

“I do not want to register at the ministry because I am afraid that a thief will copy my products,” said Ly Bun Yim, a director at Flash Diamond Movie Produc­tions. He added that the ministry’s cinema and cultural diffusion department “doesn’t have steel drawers to keep the products, they are made from wood.”

Som Sokun, director of the cinema and cultural diffusion department, said Monday that his de­partment is safe and that he has “never heard of anything being copied within the department.”

Others are not so worried about the safety of their prod­uct once it reaches the Cul­ture Mini­stry, but rather that the intellectual property law is unenforceable in a corrupt judicial system. Pro­ducers must bribe the police to have their material confiscated from pirates, said Korm Chanthy, a director at French Cambodia International.

“Each time that I ask the police to confiscate, I have to pay the police, the lawyer and the prosecutor at least $3,000,” he said.

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