Sin Sisamuth’s Family Requests Copyright Protection for Songs

The wife and son of Sin Sisamuth appeared alongside Commerce Minister Sun Chanthol in a press conference Wednesday to request stronger efforts to provide intellectual property (I.P.) rights for songs composed by the legendary late singer prior to the Khmer Rouge takeover.

Khav Thorng Nhot, 75, and her son, Sin Chanchhaya, held the conference after bringing the family’s collection of rare vinyl recordings of Sin Sisamuth, who died under the Khmer Rouge regime, to be registered with Mr. Chanthol for copyright protection.

The list of songs registered with the Commerce Ministry—illicit copies of which are available in markets around the country—totaled 181.

“Grandma [Ms. Thorng Nhot] brought a request for us to consider whether the songs of Grandpa Sin Sisamuth can be protected and given intellectual property rights or charges for [use of] his songs,” Mr. Chanthol said.

The commerce minister did not indicate what the government could do to assert the family’s I.P. rights, which are generally nonexistent in the country, but said that other fundraising measures were being considered.

“On behalf of the people who love Grandpa Sin Sisamuth’s songs, we agreed to organize a concert event…as a private generous event to pay respect to him and raise funds to help grandma’s family, which has a poor standard of living in Stung Treng province,” Mr. Chanthol announced.

Culture Minister Phoeurng Sackona, who also attended the conference, said the government would consider what it could do regarding I.P.

“We will look into what we can do to help if the documents are correct. There is a lot of difficulty because war made us lose a lot of the evidence under the previous regime,” Ms. Sackona said.

Mr. Chanchhaya, the son, said he had created a Sin Sisamuth Association in memory of his father, which he said he funded by teaching music classes.

“Nobody funds my association so I have relied on myself to create a club to teach songs and the keyboard for my monthly expenses,” he said.

Pich Sreylis, 26, a CD seller at Tuol Tompong Market, said she was unsure of the viability of such I.P. protection but suggested other ways for the family of Sin Sisamuth to make money from his unique legacy.

“The people who take his songs for new singers to sing should pay some money to his family from their performances,” Ms. Sreylis said.

Roeung Sarat, deputy director of the Ministry of Culture’s culture department, said that Wednesday’s request from the family of Sin Sisamuth would be unlikely to be realized.

“He didn’t leave any legal documents to his family,” Mr. Sarat said. “The Ministry of Culture upholds his achievements as state property.”

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