In an effort to increase enforcement of the recently passed copyright law, the Ministry of Culture unveiled plans on Tuesday to create a team of artists, writers and producers that will seek out copyright violators and bring them to court.
The proposed group, named a copyright collective management team, will also work to take advantage of the country’s increased market access through the World Trade Organization to export cultural products.
“By strengthening the means of enforcement, it will be possible to secure the economical profits of the copyright person and to strengthen the incentive for the creation of an author’s work,” Sato Keita, a copyright specialist who is a professor at Chuo University in Tokyo, told more than 200 writers, actors, authors, government officials, judges, police and customs officials at Chaktomuk Theater.
“By doing those works, as a result, it will be possible to protect the culture of Cambodia and to develop the level of the culture of Cambodia,” he added.
The National Assembly adopted the new copyright law in January as a requirement for Cambodia to join the WTO, which it will do if the Assembly approves accession before March.
“If your product is not protected by law, you do not want to produce a new thing,” said Sim Sarak, director general of the Culture Ministry’s finance and administration department. “So you will sing the old songs of the 1960s or watch foreign movies if we have no new movies.”
But, he said, enforcing the law will be very difficult. “The copyright law and related laws give us a big advantage, but it means nothing if we don’t enforce them properly,” Sim Sarak said. “No culture means no life, no soul.”
Authors and other cultural producers said the copyright law has made life more profitable for them.
“Before I was so worried about our books because they quickly went to illegal copiers,” said You Bo, director of the Khmer Writers Association. “But now I believe, step by step, books will be protected.”
Mao Samnang, a movie writer known as “Rabbit Writer,” agreed. “The copyright law is our hope,” she said.