Police in Phnom Penh’s bustling Phsar Thmei market began seizing copies of allegedly counterfeit books Monday as part of an ongoing effort to stamp out piracy, officials and a book distributor said.
The seized books were counterfeit copies of titles for which local bookseller Monument Books has exclusive distribution rights in Cambodia, Phsar Thmei Director Sok Kim Heng said.
“They showed us the letter of permission to confiscate copied books,” he said of agents from the Interior Ministry’s economic police department. They confiscated a total of 15 books from three stalls, he added.
Economic Police Director Run Rath Veasna said the seizures were a first for his department. “We’ve never confiscated copied books, but we’ve warned people not to copy books because it violates the law,” he said, before adding that he was too busy to provide further details.
Men Sambo, operations manager at Monument Books, said Tuesday that in 2005 US, UK and regional publishers and imprints such as HarperCollins, Regents, Macmillan and Silkworm Books had given Monument Books power of attorney to take legal action on their behalf in Cambodia. “It’s affecting our revenues at around 10 percent every year, and the publishers are not happy,” he said.
At Monument Books’ request, the Culture Ministry last year issued official statements recognizing the copyright protection of dozens of titles including Evan Gottesman’s “Cambodia After The Khmer Rouge,” David Chandler’s “Brother Number One” and Matt Jacobson’s “Adventure Cambodia.”
Monument Books then lodged a grievance with the Interior Ministry early this year, Men Sambo said, adding that as much as 30 percent of company revenue comes from the sale of titles related to the Angkorian era and the Khmer Rouge.
Sok Kim, a vendor at Phsar Thmei’s stall 62 said that around 4 pm police had taken nine copies of three titles from her, only one of which, Nayan Chanda’s “Brother Enemy,” was on their list of prohibited items. “I wonder why books at other stalls were not confiscated,” she added.