Cambodian film and movie producers this week said they look forward to the firm implementation of a new copyright law, which could foster an increase in domestically produced songs and movies.
The National Assembly in January adopted a copyright law prohibiting the reproduction and sale of pirated CDs, VCDs, DVDs, books and other intellectual property to qualify for membership in the World Trade Organization. The government said it began enforcing the law Sept 6.
“I couldn’t find any words to express my excitement when the punishment was put into effect,” said Fay Sam Ang, productions manager at Socheat Salapheap Bouth Productions.
SSB Productions recently produced the traditional love story “Tum Teav.” The film was released in theaters in July and was unlawfully copied and distributed to markets shortly after.
“Just only 10 minutes, copied, displayed and sold it to every market,” Fay Sam Ang said. “I dropped my tears because I regretted my wisdom and money I used to produce the movie.”
Fay Sam Ang said the copyright law could protect local producers, generate more income and, ultimately, enhance the quality of Cambodian films.
“When there is no more illegal movie copying, I can make more profits, so I will spend more money to produce the movies and pay film stars. The movie sector will improve,” he said.
The producer predicted a better environment for all cultural endeavors, including songwriting. Fay Sam Ang, who currently writes Khmer lyrics set to Thai melodies, said he will stop imitating foreign tunes.
“I will start my own work because now there is the law,” he said, adding that the popularity of local songs may be slow to develop because young Cambodians are keen on foreign music.
According to the law, violators who reproduce an artist’s original work without permission can be fined between 5 million riel ($1,250) and 25 million riel ($6,250) and face a prison sentence of up to 12 months.
Those who import or export an artist’s work without permission from the performers and producers may be fined between 2 million riel ($500) and 10 million riel ($2,500) and face six months to a year in prison.
Sim Sarak, the Ministry of Culture’s administration and finance director general, said he was not aware of any copyright violations being filed with the court so far.
The copyright law went into effect Sept 6, following a six-month probationary period in which producers of pirated goods were warned to stop their trade.
Foreign countries may now file complaints in Cambodian court if they discover their intellectual products have been copied or distributed in Cambodia.
Although artists will face greater pressure to produce local films and songs, their work also will face greater scrutiny, said Muong Sokhan, deputy director of the Cinema and Cultural Diffusion Department. All local and foreign films must be examined for pornography, excessive violence, drug use or defamatory words, especially criticism of the King, he said.
Ly Bun Yim, director of the Cambodian Movie Association and Flash Diamond Movie Productions, promised Tuesday that local CDs and VCDs will remain at a reasonable price.
“When no offenders copy our movies, we will receive a lot of profit. Then we will produce CDs and VCDs at a cheap price. Please don’t worry,” he said.