Phnom Penh Municipal Police will send 17 people accused of selling counterfeit CDs and VCDs to Municipal Court today, where they could be charged with breaking copyright laws, police said Sunday.
Police arrested the accused at Phsar Olympic and Phsar Thmei on Saturday after authorities raided their shops, Municipal Judicial Police Chief Heng Pov said.
The authorities confiscated more than 20,000 copied CDs and VCDs from different production companies at the two markets, Heng Pov said.
Although police have confiscated illegally copied CDs and VCDs from vendors in past raids, they have rarely arrested the sellers. In March, the Council of Ministers passed a draft law making it illegal to copy or sell VCDs, CDs and other commercial products without permission from their creators.
A person convicted of breaking the copyright laws can be imprisoned for up to five years and fined up to 1 million riel ($250).
It is one of about 40 laws Cambodia must pass before the country can be eligible to enter the World Trade Organization.
Recently, Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand have cracked down on the production and distribution of illegally copied CDs and VCDs.
Ly Bun Yim, the director of the Cambodian Movie Association, an organization consisting of 16 movie production companies, complained to the police because the counterfeiters had been cutting into his profits. Many movie production studios spend a lot of money to produce their films and music, yet “offenders” copy their products for free, he said.
“I spent a lot of money to establish my studio—that is why I ask the police to crack down on copiers of CDs,” Ly Bun Yim said Sunday. “The copiers of CDs affect the Cambodian movie industry because we spend a lot of money to make movies, and [the counterfeiters] make the copies and sell them for cheap.”
If this copying continues, the film and music producers will lose so much money on their productions that they will be forced to stop making their artistic endeavors, he said.
Khem Sarith, the director of the inter-ministerial Committee Against Illegal Movies and Videos, said on Sunday that even though cracking down on video and CD counterfeiters can be good, it can also lead to an increase in the price of CDs and VCDs.
“We have to be careful with the crackdown actions, because sometimes the action can give an advantage to movie producers who want to increase the price of their product,” Khem Sarith said.