A Phnom Penh judge has convicted a 34-year-old man of pirating VCDs, ordering him to pay nearly $700,000 in fines in the first-ever intellectual property rights case to go to trial in Cambodia.
Phnom Penh Municipal Court Judge Kim Sophorn Monday found Ly Seng Pao guilty of violating Article 43 of the Untac law, which forbids electronic piracy, and sentenced him to five years probation, the judge confirmed in an interview Tuesday. Kim Sophorn also ordered the vendor to pay $600,000 to the Hang Meas Video company, $60,000 to Neak Reach video company and $25,000 to Chlang Den video company, which all make karaoke videos in Cambodia. The size of the fine should set an example to other would-be pirates around the country, Kim Sophorn said.
“If the court did not find him guilty, it could have allowed other pirates to steal more and more, and it could affect the lawful VCD producers,” Kim Sophorn said.
In late July, police said they seized more than 800 pirated videos from Ly Seng Pao’s store near Phsar Olympic. Ly Seng Pao, who was unavailable for comment, can still appeal the verdict but could face time in prison if he does not pay the fines.
One of the requirements for membership in the World Trade Organization, which Cambodia has been lobbying hard to join, is copyright laws that meet international standards. The government has several proposed laws under review.