Legends Cinema Takes Aim at Pirated Movies

Eighteen DVD shops in Phnom Penh have received warnings from police after they were found to be selling banned movies and more than 2,000 DVDs have been confiscated, police officials said yesterday.

In September the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts ordered pirated-DVD shop owners and TV stations to stop selling or airing Hollywood movies that have been licensed locally to a newly opened movie theater.

According to Long Sreng, deputy director of the economic police at the Ministry of Interior, the government has been working with Westec Media Company, which operates the Legends Cinema at City Mall. He said the Ministry of Culture has distributed lists of banned movies, which include 16 films to which Westec has acquired licenses, to the managers of each of the major markets that sell pirated DVDs in Phnom Penh.

Sin Chan Saya, director of the cinema and cultural diffusion department at the Ministry of Culture said repeat offenders will be arrested and taken to court, although none has been arrested yet.

Jesmond Chong, the general manager of Westec Media, said he is determined to put a stop to the pirating.

“They gave us the right to distribution,” Mr Chong said. “It’s our responsibility to protect our property.”

For now, the crackdowns seem to be limited to a few markets – Phsar Orussey, Phsar Tuol Tom Poung and City Mall. However, copies of the banned movies could be found yesterday being sold at Phsar Olympic, Phsar Thmei and Sorya Mall.

Though some shop owners continue to sell banned movies, they say they believe threats from the police.

“Yes, we’re afraid,” said one shop owner at Central market who requested anonymity. “But if we don’t sell them, how can we make money?”

A shop owner at Russian market who received a warning said the bans were unfair, not just to the shop owners, but to Cambodian movie fans.

“There’s no company to import and redistribute legally,” said Peng, who would only give his first name. “If there was a legal way to do it, we would consider buying from them.”

 

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