Despite the new copyright law and a recent police confiscation of illegally copied video compact discs, one film industry veteran is decrying continued video piracy and a government official predicted that the theft of intellectual property would not stop anytime soon.
Sem Sovanndeth, director of Lux Cinema and Reaksmey Pean Meas Productions, purchased the Cambodian distribution rights to the Thai film “Flying Knee, Burning Elbow” and is currently screening it in his two theaters.
He said Monday that he filed a complaint with police after discovering that the film was already widely available on VCD.
“After they copied my story, audiences have declined to see the movie…. I will definitely lose money, because the pirates have destroyed my copyrights,” he said.
The National Assembly adopted a copyright law in January prohibiting the unlicensed reproduction and sale of intellectual property in order to qualify for membership in the World Trade Organization. The government says the law has been enforced since Sept 6.
Lieutenant Colonel Long Sreng, administrative office chief of the Ministry of Interior’s department of economics, said he received an order from National Police Chief Hok Lundy on Saturday and led 10 plainclothes police officers to several markets in Phnom Penh. The order was in response to Sem Sovanndeth’s complaint. Long Sreng said that police confiscated 500 copies of “Flying Knee, Burning Elbow” from different stalls.
“We didn’t arrest the pirating ringleaders; we just warned the merchants to stop selling the copied VCDs,” he said. Any merchant who continues to sell the Thai film after being verbally warned will be asked to sign a written warning. A third offense will result in arrest and fines according to the law, Long Sreng explained.
He said that police will not confiscate copies of intellectual property unless a complaint is filed by the holder of the copyright.
Long Sreng suggested media pirates are not afraid of the new law because, despite the fines, they can still make a profit.