Vietnam to make IP pirates walk the plank

Vietnam to make IP pirates walk the plank

Vietnam is making efforts to crack down on copyrights infringements, but such piracy still persists.

Samsung and Coca-Cola recently cancelled their advertising contracts with, the online news, entertainment and social network of company VNG. Both Samsung and Coca-Cola cited concerns about Zing’s use of musical works without permission.

“Corporate users of illegal software can face criminal charges and severe legal penalties. In addition, copyright owners have the rights to use different measures to protect their interests, such as filing a lawsuit” – Vu Manh Chu, director of the Copyright Office made no comment on the incident. A few days later, it signed an agreement with Universal Music Group on music copyrights. Under the deal, VNG will provide users in Vietnam with Universal Music records in the form of streaming and download with fees, as from November 1, 2012, from the whole system of Zing. Zing and 17 other websites started to charge VND1,000 (US5 cents) on a song downloaded.

According to the Recording Industry Association of Vietnam (RIAV), Vietnam has about 150 websites that allow online music downloads. But only 18 of these websites charging fees, so copyright infringement remains common.

Similarly, computer software piracy is still popular in the country though Vietnamese laws provide strict regulations against the violations, such as fines and lawsuits against the infringements. There are cases in which users of pirated software have ignored the implementation of decisions by government inspectors.

During a raid this September at Taiwanese-invested company Princemate Vietnam, the joint inspection team from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Ministry of Public Security found unlicenced computer software programmes used at the company.

Inspectors wrote that within five inspection days, the company had to contact software owners to buy legal software programmes for its business. The company was required to show the purchase contracts, receipts and relevant documents to the Inspectorate of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. Company representatives agreed to follow inspectors’ requirements, but have not taken such actions in the weeks that followed.

Vu Manh Chu, director of the Copyright Office of Vietnam under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said: “Corporate users of illegal software can face criminal charges and severe legal penalties. In addition, copyright owners have the rights to use different measures to protect their interests, such as filing a lawsuit.”


Commitments on IP protection to have big impacts on businesses

VietNamNet Bridge – The fulfillment of the commitments regarding the intellectual property (IP) protection is believed to install a firm technical barrier to Vietnamese, which is believed to change the whole business environment in Vietnam.


The stronger reactions by international institutions regarding the intellectual property (IP) problems show the hard pressure Vietnam is under in implementing IP rights.

Just several days after Coca-Cola and Samsung released the decision to remove all their ad pieces from the website, Zing immediately had to make public the copyright agreement with Universal Music, affirming that it would sign similar contracts with other international music firms as well.

Prior to that, the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) said it once gave a warning to Zing about the copyright, and that the late response of Zing could be a lesson for other businesses.

Zing is not alone. In recent months, the number of businesses inspected on the accusation of software piracy has been increasing rapidly. Hi-tech product distributors and some computer shops, including the well-known ones, have become the “aiming points” of inspectors. Taiwanese, South Korean and the US businesses operating in Vietnam have also been examined.

The pirated software products reportedly are made by both Vietnamese and foreign suppliers, including Adobe, Autodesk, Corel, Lac Viet, Symantec, or Tekla.

The noteworthy thing is that not only foreign groups, but domestic companies have also voiced their strong protest against the piracy. MISA software firm has recently asked the police to investigate the cases relating to the sale of counterfeit software or unlocked software products.

A software product provided by MISA at 10 million dong is now can be bought at just 500,000-2 million dong on the black market.

An executive of BKAV, a well known network security solution provider, also complained that it takes the firm at least two or three years to develop a product, but the product could be stolen just some days after it launches into the market.

“The problems in IP protection enforcement have led to the fact that businesses are not protected, and they do not have income resources for re-investment,” he said.

The Business Software Alliance BSA believes that pirate computer software accounted for 81 percent in 2011 with the value of 395 million dollars. Meanwhile, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) reported at least 80 percent of Vietnamese websites violate the IP laws. It also said that the enforcement of the IP laws remains not tight enough.

IP right enforcement would mean more barriers to businesses

Vu Ba Phu, Deputy Director of the Competition Administration Department, an arm of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, said that more and more effective instruments have been applied by developed economies with an aim to create new technical barriers against imports. Therefore, Vietnamese businesses have to pay higher attention to the IP protection, or they would become the defendants in the lawsuits to be raised by the rivals

“Vietnamese businesses have no other choice than getting adapted to a national economy, where IP rights are strictly respected,” he said.

Phu went on to say that Vietnam has to strengthen the enforcement of IP laws once it has committed to integrate more deeply into the world’s economy. The government of Vietnam has also has to create a fair playing field for all investors in Vietnam.

Pham Chi Lan, a well-known economist, said that when negotiating for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, the IP protection, the commitment on technology renovation, environment protection and the strict regulations on product origins all have been put on the table by the foreign partners.

Compiled by C. V


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