Tag Archives: Legal

NTV7 Breakfast Show Interview – 2.3.2011

Edwin was invited as a guest of NTV7 Breakfast Show for the segment “Know your rights” and he was kind of enough to invite me as a guest as well. The both of us spoke about privacy and data protection.

Our interview was a telecast live from Sri Pentas. Before the show, we were specifically asked not wear green. Edwin and I decided to be traditional and wore black and white.

I tweeted that I got myself brand new shades before the show.


Chocolate filled glasses yo…

Unfortunately, I ate them all before the show.

When I first saw the show, I thought the venue is quite big. Then when we arrived at the set, I find that the place much smaller! And the background was all green!

The background on TV was super imposed! No wonder we are not allowed to wear green. If we did, we will be “one with the background”.

We initially prepared Q&A for the anchors, Aishah Sinclair and Hansen Lee. However, they did not rely on the Q&A. Fortunately, Edwin and I were ready to answer the questions.

We covered a lot of the upcoming Personal Data Protection Act 2010 and some privacy issues.


Edwin, Hansen, Aishah and me..damn Aishah is hot..and she’s a mother of one!

I’ll post the video up once I get it from the producers. Will be on again on Thursday to speak about social media and the law!

Interview on BFM – 2.3.2011

My firm hooked me up with BFM radio station when BFM was looking for a lawyer to speak about social media.

If you’re wondering who and what is BFM. It’s a radio station with a focus on business. They interview people from various industries daily and even have programs on how to improve your business. I listen to it everyday.

Barely 5 hours of sleep I marched to BFM’s office for my interview and arrived there at 645am.


It was still dark when I got there.

There was only 5 people in the entire office at that time and they were already on air! I didn’t know that you can run a radio program with 5 people.

Khoo Hsu Chuang was my interviewer. He is one of my favourite BFM DJs. I love it whenever he shoots interviewees when they evade or doesn’t answer his questions. But I got a little bit worried when I found out that he was my interviewer. Heh

Chuang and I had a short discussion on the topics to be discussed. I was warned not to swear otherwise they would have to use the “dumb” button to censor me. Hehe. It was difficult for me not to swear!!

You can listen to my interview below. Here’s a synopsis of the interview.

… discusses the legal aspects of social media, focusing in particular on online defamation, admissibility of online data in courts, cybersquatting, domain disputes, and whether there should there be regulation of the Internet and social media, whether directly or indirectly.

He also discusses the fine line between fair Internet policing and control over the Internet, proposed Amendments to the PPPA and the perceived threats to online publications and bloggers.

He also talks about the Malaysian Personal Data Protection Act 2010 (not in force yet) and explains its implications for the ordinary layman.

It was the first time I had to speak live on national radio. Some of the topics can be quite sensitive especially when it comes to Government plans. I have to tip toe the line. I rather be seen as apolitical.


After the interview was done, I took some pictures with Chuang and producer Chun (on the right).

It was definitely a good experience. I initially thought not many people listened to it as it was so early in the morning. However, I was surprise that some of my friends were listening to the radio. Some even tweeted questions to me!

Coincidentally, on the next day, I was invited as a guest at the NTV7 Breakfast Show. Will blog about it later!

Life Online Show 16: Naughty things

I was invited as a guest to speak at the Life Online Show podcast #16 (also known LOLShow a Malaysian podcast on social media and all things on the web) specifically on the amendment to the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 (PPPA). If you recall, the Government recently announced that it has plans to expand the ambit of the PPPA to cover online newspaper. This means anyone running an online news portal would need to register themselves under the PPPA failing which they will run foul of the PPPA. This would also mean that the life or death of the online news portal would depend on the Government. The online news portals’ impartiality may be affected by this.

Other than PPPA, the following topics were discussed with host John Lim, David Wang from theclickstarter.com, David Lian from Text100, journalist Niki Cheong:

1) Groupon coming into Malaysia by acquiring GroupsMore.com

2) Google establishing a bigger foothold in Malaysia with an office in KLCC.

3) The Malaysian Prime Minister has sent citizens Chinese New Year greetings, but how did he get their e-mail addresses in the first place?

Blog postings can backfire

My article, originally titled “Social Media Development 2010” (title was changed by The Star as usual), was published in The Putik Lada column of The Star Newspaper on 20.01.2011. You can check it out at this link.

You will notice that I did not mention the names of the Malaysian cases. I initially was torn whether to post the names of the cases as it may cause a little embarrassment to those involved in the cases.

The cases were no doubt in public domain as they were reported in, among others, legal journals – which is widely known to the legal circle.

However, by publishing them in The Star, this would highlight the cases to the general public. Niki Cheong was kind enough to advise that if the disadvantages of posting of names outweigh the benefit, I shouldn’t put them.

Anyway, for the benefit of those interested to know the sources of my article, you can click on the links above. My blog doesn’t have the same readership as The Star newspaper so chance of embarrassing the parties involved is slim.

Blog postings can backfire

PUTIK LADA
By FOONG CHENG LEONG

Social media influence has hit court proceedings, with lawyers trolling blogs and Wikipedia in search of material that can help them argue the case for their clients.

LAST year brought further interesting development to social media and laws all around the world. Cases making references to social media tools saw an increase.

Social media was a tool for lawyers and litigants to help parties to fight their cases. Social media was also the cause of some parties’ mortification and incarceration.

In one High Court judgment last year, the judge recognised the publication of defamatory blog postings by a husband as one of the grounds to present a divorce petition before the expiry of two years from the date of marriage.

He also recognised that a defamatory statement in a blog posting operated in a borderless realm, and would continue to exist until the maker of the blog removed it.

The challenge against the constitutionality of S. 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, the provision commonly used against Internet users, was dismissed by the High Court.

In this case, the defendant was charged with making disparaging remarks against the Sultan of Perak during the struggle between Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat. The court held, among other things, that the section did not impede freedom of expression. S. 233 is to ensure that the freedom given by the Constitution is exercised responsibly.

The use of Wikipedia as a reference is increasingly recognised in Malaysia, notwithstanding that the reliability of Wikipedia is questionable, as anyone can add or edit an entry in Wikipedia.

Nevertheless, the reliance on Wikipedia by our courts can be traced in reported cases as early as 2007.

Last year Wikipedia was referred to in Etonic Garment Manufacturing Sdn Bhd v Kunn-G Freight System (M) Sdn Bhd [2010] 1 LNS 13 (for the meaning of freight forwarder), PP v Murugan a/l Arumugam [2009] 1 LNS 1759 (for the meaning of atherosclerosis) and Thai Long Distance Telecommunication Co Ltd & Anor v Malaysian Maritime Dredging Corpo­ration Sdn Bhd (Kuala Lumpur Suit No: D-22-352-2005, for the meaning of chart datum).

Social media influence had also hit court room proceedings. It is common in Malaysia for people, in particular reporters, to tweet live from the courts. In the United Kingdom, the Lord Chief Justice issued a guideline for the use of live text-based forms of communication from court.

In this guideline, the Lord Chief Justice approved the use of Twitter for court reporting. However, in the US, certain courts ban the use of social media by juries.

In the US case of Romano v. Steelcase Inc, 2006-2233 (N.Y. Super. Sept. 21, 2010), Kathleen Romano sued Steelcase Inc for injuries she suffered after she fell off an allegedly defective desk chair manufactured by Steelcase Inc.

As a result of the fall, she claimed, she suffered restricted movement of her neck and back and “pain and progressive deterioration with consequential loss of enjoyment of life”.

In defence, Steelcase applied to access Romano’s current and historical Facebook and Myspace pages and accounts which are believed to be inconsistent with her claims in the action concerning the extent and nature of her injuries, especially for loss of enjoyment of life. The court granted Steelcase’s application.

Similarly, in McMillen v Hummingbird Speedway Inc, et al, Court of Common Pleas of Jefferson County, Pennsylvania, Civil Division, No. 113-2010 CD, Opinion on Defendants’ Motion to Compel Discovery (Sept. 9. 2010), the plaintiff sued the defendants for injuries suffered.

The defendants claimed that posts on the public portion of his Facebook page showed that he had exaggerated his injuries. The court granted the defendants access to the plaintiff’s private portion of his Facebook and Myspace account to determine whether or not the plaintiff had made any other comments which impeached and contradicted his disability and damages claims.

Closer to home, in a reported Industrial Court case, an employee claimed that she was forced by her employer to resign.

In response, her employer argued that the resignation was voluntary and they produced extracts of the claimant’s blog which showed the claimant had written about her feelings regarding her employment with the employer.

In it, she stated that she wanted to leave the company and admitted that she went for job interviews as she had already decided to go away.

The Industrial Court chairman relied on the blog entries to find that the employee had intended to leave and found that she had gladly tendered her resignation to take on new employment.

In Australia, a hairdresser won compensation for wrongful dismissal after losing her job for making unflattering remarks about her employer on her Facebook.

In Miss Sally-Anne Fitzgerald v Dianna Smith T/A Escape Hair Design [2010] FWA 7358, Commissioner Michelle Bissett for Fair Work Australia said that posting comments about an employer on a website (Facebook) that can be seen by an uncontrollable number of people is no longer a private matter but a public comment.

It would be foolish of employees to think they may say as they wish on their Facebook page with total immunity.

This year brings another exciting watershed to Malaysia’s social media legal sphere. The Personal Data Protection Act 2010, which governs the processing of personal data, is pending enforcement.

Proposed amendments to the Copyright Act 1987 have been drawn up in the form of a Bill to exempt Internet service providers from liability for copyright infringement under certain circumstances.

The Bill also empowers the court to order an Internet service provider to disable access to infringing material.

Furthermore, the so-called Internet Service Providers Liability Act may be passed to compel Internet service providers to take action against their users if they download songs or movies illegally.

Internet Service Provider Liability Act: Do we need one?

Once again, I contributed an article to to LoyarBurok, a local blawg. This time round, I wrote about the repercussion of the proposed Internet Service Provider Liability Act – something that will affect all internet users. Basically, with this act, we cannot download any copyrighted materials including music and videos. The source of the news can be seen below:

New law to end illegal downloading of music and movies
By STEVEN PATRICK

KUALA LUMPUR: The free-and-easy days of illegal downloading of music and movies may soon be over. A proposed new law will enable Internet Service Providers (ISP) to suspend or terminate the Internet accounts of P2P (peer-to-peer) users.

This new law called the ISP Liability act, will be tabled in Parliament next month, according to Recording Industry Association of Malaysia (RIM) chairman Norman Halim.

RIM has been lobbying the Government for an ISP Liability act for the past 5 years as illegal online downloads have been cannibalising the legitimate sales of music, worldwide.

“The act makes the ISPs responsible for curbing online piracy. The ISPs will be fined if they don’t take action against illegal downloaders. The ISPs have the technology to track P2P users,” said Norman.

However, he said that the fine amount had yet to be determined.

ISPs will send two warning letters to illegal downloaders. Should the downloaders still persist, the Internet access will be suspended or even terminated.

“Other countries that have such an act have seen their respective music industries recover. One good example would be South Korea,” he said.

[Credits: The Star]

Here’s the reproduction of my article:

An analysis of the potential repercussions of the proposed Internet Service Provider Liability Act.

Recently, The Star reported that the Malaysian Parliament will be tabling the ISP Liability Act (”Act”). According to The Star, the Act makes internet service providers (ISPs) responsible for curbing online piracy. The ISP will be fined if they don’t take action against illegal downloaders.

The ISP will send two warning letters to illegal downloaders. Should the downloaders persist, their internet access will be suspended or even terminated.

It is unclear at this juncture on how far-reaching the Act would be. Will it cover all methods of downloading copyrighted materials, such as music and movies, or only through P2P file sharing software? If a user streams videos or music through a website, would they be caught under this Act? Technically in such case, there is a download of copyrighted materials into a user’s computer.

It is also unclear at this juncture on how the Act would require ISPs to monitor their users’ activities. Are they compelled to keep track of all their users’ internet activities? Or would there be a need for active participation of intellectual property rights (IPR) holders to tell the ISPs that certain IP addresses are infringing their rights, so that the ISPs can reveal the users’ details?

How it works

Making ISPs responsible for their users’ actions is not something common. Jurisdictions such as United States of America and United Kingdom have laws in place to compel ISPs to take action their users.

In some jurisdictions, IPR holders would engage a third party to monitor the internet to see whether anyone is sharing copyrighted files online. If they detect someone, they will obtain the IP address, and thereafter pass it to the relevant ISPs for them to take action against their user. If the user persists notwithstanding that warning letters have been issued, the ISPs may suspend or terminate the user’s internet access.

This is also commonly known as graduated response, or in another words the “three strikes rule”.

Repercussions

It is argued that such a law would curb online piracy. Thousands of people are dependant on the music and movie industries, and online piracy is affecting these industries severely. I do not deny that online piracy has affected these industry, but the objective of this article is to show that the repercussions of such a law are severe to internet users.

What has happened in jurisdictions containing such a law is a good indication on where the implementation of such a law will take us.

In many cases, IPR holders take additional steps against alleged online infringers. IPR holders would normally request for the identity of the internet user (normally after obtaining a Court order) from the ISPs. Some ISPs are ready to divulge such information, whereas some ISPs put up a fight. Once the identity of the user is revealed, the IPR would initiate action against the user and such active enforcement has caused terrible impact on users.

In the United Kingdom, it was reported that IPR holders will send a letter to illegal file sharers demanding payments of between GBP500 and GBP700, failing which the file sharer will be brought to Court. In the United States, a lady decided to fight it out with the recording industry instead of settling out of Court after being accused of encouraging the illegal sharing of songs. She lost the case, and was fined US$220,000. It is a classic case of David against Goliath.

Such a law will also affect internet users who do not know that their internet connection has been piggy-backed by third parties. There are many cases where users do not know that someone has used their internet connection — especially those with unsecured Wi-fi connection — and subsequently receive a demand letter for an offence they did not commit. This happened to a 78 year old man in the United Kingdom, who received a demand letter from a lawyer accusing him of downloading pornography. The 78 year old man didn’t even know what file-sharing was!

At this juncture, we do not know whether the Act would provide for a defence of innocent infringement. But the fact that one can receive a demand letter from lawyers for something that one has not done is quite frightening.

Children are now exposed to the internet at very young age. They may not know that their act of sharing and downloading music or videos will cause serious repercussions to them. A child would obviously choose to download the latest single of Justin Bieber from the internet instead of begging and pleading with his or her parents to buy it. One would argue that we ought to teach our children against online piracy. But all parents know that not all of their advice is always heeded.

In Singapore, it was reported that Odex Pte Ltd, a distributor of Japanese anime in Singapore, had issued demand letters to children as young as 9 years old accusing them of illegal downloads. Further, in the United States, 16 year old Whitney Harper was sued by the recording industry after she was found sharing music via a P2P file sharing program. She claimed that she didn’t know the program she used was taking songs from the internet illegally. Notwithstanding that, judgement was entered against her.

The enactment of the Act would also be another deterioration of our (almost non-existence) privacy rights. Malaysian laws do not recognize invasion of privacy rights as an actionable wrongdoing (see Ultra Dimenson Sdn Bhd v. Kook Wei Kuan [2004] 5 CLJ 285; Dr Bernadine Malini Martin v MPH Magazine Sdn Bhd & Ors and Another Appeal [2010] 7 CLJ 525; and Lew Cher Pow @ Lew Cha Paw & 11 yang lain lwn. Pua Yong Yong & Satu Lagi [2009] 1 LNS 1256) except in very limited circumstances (Maslinda Ishak v. Mohd Tahir Osman & Ors [2009] 6 CLJ 655).

ISPs are the “guardians” of our rights of privacy. They hold the key to our identity in the internet. Our identity, surfing habits and internet activities are our personal data and ISPs ought to give priority of such data over commercial interest of others.

By giving access to our personal data to third parties, our privacy is at risk, and such a risk is real. Recently, ACS:Law, a law firm specialising in taking action against file sharers in the United Kingdom, had accidentally divulged information of thousand of broadband users who were accused of illegal file sharing. The information that was leaked were unencrypted Excel spreadsheets, listing the names and addresses of people that ACS:Law had accused of illegally sharing media. One contained details of customers whom they had accused of illegally sharing pornography!

In light of the ACS: Law case, some ISPs in the UK resist efforts to divulge customer details to IPR holders. I urge the same is followed by our local ISPs in order to protect internet users’ privacy.

It should be remembered that customer data is protected under the upcoming Personal Data Protection Act 2010, which provides for a fine or imprisonment or to both in the event of a breach.

Lawyers appointed to act for IPR holders should also be vigilant when dealing with internet users. Solicitors who had been representing IPR holders were subject to public humiliation and harassment by internet users.


A partner of ACS: Law, one of the main targets.

Assuming that the Act would push through in any event, I urge our local ISPs to only take action or to provide customer information to IPR holders if they are satisfied that –

1. there is strong evidence to show infringing act has been committed by user, if possible only provide information if infringement is on a large or commercial scale or for commercial gain;
2. the requester’s storage system is secure, and they have given an undertaking that information will be kept securely e.g. encrypted;
3. the requester will only use that information for the purpose of pursuing legal action only and not to published it anywhere else; and
4. the requester is compelled to give access to the information obtained from ISPs to customers to ensure that a fair case can be fought.

Closing

I am not a file sharing advocate, and I do not condone internet piracy. I am only seeking to raise awareness of the repercussions of such a law. I hope what I have mentioned above is considered by the law and policy makers.

I would like to express my gratitude to David Wang of Blogjunkie.net for raising this issue on his blog.

Quick, throw your CDs away! There’s a roadblock! – Part II

Remember my post on “Quick, throw your CDs away! There’s a roadblock!“? It was an article about the Government implementing a law to nab people with pirated DVDs.

Latest news is that the Government decided to scrap off this law. I wonder if the article I wrote had helped in scrapping the proposed law! Hehe! *perasan*

Maybe it’s because election is coming…

Pirated DVDs Buyers Let off

KUALA LUMPUR: The proposal to penalise those who buy pirated DVDs, VCDs and CDs will not be seeing the light of day after all.

Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob told the New Sunday Times that the proposal, which was mooted by the industry, had been shot down because the ‘public feels the move is too harsh’.

“The people think the proposal to amend the Copyright Act to this effect is too punitive. They fear the enforcement of the amendment.

“They are concerned about misuse of power during enforcement.

“As far as I am concerned, that won’t happen, but the public is afraid that the police will stop their cars or go into their homes to look for pirated DVDs and VCDs.

“Therefore, the proposal to criminalise the purchase of pirated DVDs, VCDs and CDs will not go through,” he said.

Expressing his disappointment, Malaysian Artistes’ Association president Datuk Freddie Fernandez said, however, that “we are in an era where CD piracy will soon be a thing of the past.”

“People are not buying pirated CDs any more as they can get their music free from the Internet. For us, Internet piracy is the bigger problem.

“We feel more effort should be focused on this area. Websites which offer illegal downloading should be shut down and people who file-share should be subject to prosecution.

“I think for CD piracy, the fines are very high for suppliers and this
is a good deterrent, but where the Internet is concerned, we need more enforcement.”

Recording Industry Association of Malaysia (RIM) chairman Norman Abdul Halim, who is also president and chief executive officer of KRU Studios, said while penalising copyright infringers is “ideal”, it is “a bit difficult to implement”.

“To be honest, the more serious threat is from the Internet. We hope the amendment to the Copyright Act will address Internet piracy — from Internet service provider liability to the ‘three strikes’ rule — where customers receive three warnings before their Internet connection is cut off.”

It had been initially reported that buyers of pirated DVDs and VCDs would be fined five times the price of the genuine product once the Copyright Act was amended.

This was greeted by public outrage with many arguing that it was the sellers who should be penalised and that it was unfair to take legal action against buyers when original DVDs were too expensive.

One of the drafters of the Consumer Protection Act 1999, Datuk Dr Sothi Rachagan, who is currently vice-president (academic affairs) of Nilai University College, said intellectual property (IP) should be protected, but the manner in which it is protected was also very important.

He said there were two central issues — the amount of protection the holder of IP rights is entitled to, and the manner in which protection is to be effected.

“If the amendments to the Copyright Act had been enacted, then we would, for the first time, begin penalising purchasers of pirated DVDs, VCDs and CDs.

“This is essentially criminalising consumer conduct which has hitherto not been criminal.

“Peddling pirated DVDs is always an offence, but the act of purchasing a single DVD for personal use, even if frowned upon, was never an offence.”

The law currently allows a person to be arrested if he has three copies or more of a pirated DVD or VCD of the same title, the presumption being that such a person is a peddler.

“Consumers would obviously ask why, when we have serious problems with counterfeit handbags, T-shirts and shoes and other fake products, is it only an offence to buy fake DVDs, VCDs or CDs?

“When you amend the law to apply to DVDs, VCDs and CDs, then shouldn’t it also apply to other fake products?

“Are we going to extend the law to these areas? If not, why not? Why should purchasers of these products be treated differently?”

There are also implementation issues to be considered.

“If I buy a pirated DVD now when it is not illegal, will it be illegal when the law comes into effect? Will the law have retrospective effect?

“If it does, that will be repugnant to any sense of justice. It is also against Article 7 of the Federal Constitution which says no person shall be punished for an act or omission which was not punishable by law when it was done or made.

“But if it does not have retrospective effect, then it will be necessary to establish that the purchase of the DVD or VCD was later than the date the amendment was gazetted,” said Sothi.

Then comes the question of enforcement, he said.

“Are they going to search houses and cars for pirated DVDs, VCDs and CDs? Who will be given the authority to search and take action? Is it going to be ministry enforcement officers, Rela, or will the police also be involved? Would a warrant be needed?”

IT Law Forum @ KDU College of Law and Business on 12.11.2010

After 6 months of organising this event, the KL Bar Information Technology Committee’s efforts finally paid off. The number of participants were around 100 people which consists mostly lawyers.

The events leading to the forum were quite dramatic. First, we had problems finding speakers. I was in charge of finding speakers from the social media session. My thought was to find someone from the business, journalism and political sides to give their version of their story on how social media has impacted them. Malaysia Top 10 Hottest Blogger Niki Cheong and Nuffnang Nicholas Chay were kind enough to address the part on journalism and business respectively. My top choice for politics side was UMNO Youth Chief Khairy Jamaluddin. However, he did not respond to our invitation and didn’t even bother to send a reply. I even sent him two messages to his twitter!

I couldn’t think of another politician who is well verse with social media except for opposition party politicians. We invited YB Datuk #Yorais Yatim, Minister of Information to grace the opening hence I don’t think it is wise to invite an opposition politician. Furthermore, we already invited fellow DAP member, Jeff Ooi to speak in our previous forum.

Fortunately, Timothy Tiah hooked me with someone from DiGi and I managed to get Azizi Jennis to speak.

Then few days before the event, #Yorais informed us we couldn’t make it but fortunately, Deputy Minister II Senator Datuk Maglin Dennis D’Cruz came.

There were many other problems were encountered but I guess this is part and parcel of event management. We had to be very, very flexible with changes in plans.

We had a huge problem with our caterer as well. They came extremely later. The Deputy Minister came earlier than them! They served our VIP sandwiches that looked like as if it were pressed using their fingers. Their coffee was so sweet as if they were trying to give us diabetes.

There were also no water. I had to supply them with my own supply of mineral water (which I keep in my car).

The worst part was that one of the waiters spilled a tray of curry, which was supposed to be for lunch, on the floor -___- We had to get KDU College to provide us with a new dish.

In regards to the speakers, the KL Bar Blog’s blog entry below sums it up the best:

Three speakers spoke on the Censorship on Malaysian Internet and all three of them spoke against censorship; though Mr Jagdish Singh of the Internet Society did promote internet censorship to protect certain segment of society such as young Children. Mr Steven Gan of Malaysiakini gave a resounding speech from a Journalist’s point of view and impressed upon the delegates that Internet Censorship should not exist in Malaysia. Mr HR Dipendra, a lawyer but speaking in his capacity as part of the international Media Defence Group articulated his point for a non-censored internet to allow the Media on the Net to flourish.

The 2nd Session saw two heavyweights in Data Protection Law in the form of Professor Abu Bakar Munir of University Malaya and Professor Sonny Zulhuda of International Islamic University of Malaysia. They spoke on the recently passed Personal Data Protection Act 2010, currently waiting to be in operation. The two Professors shared many intricate and delicate views on the matter. Professor Abu Bakar Munir, in particular, had inside knowledge of the Act, as he was in fact part of the team who drafted the Act.Many delegates posed interesting and sometimes difficult questions to the two Professors. The replies from the Academicians were extremely helpful and clarified many anomalies of the Act.

After the lunch break; the Forum saw three giants on Social Media speaking. Representing Nuffnang was Mr Nicholas Chay whilst DiGi sent their Head of Online, Mr Azizi Jennis. The trio was completed by the famous Blogger Mr Niki Cheong.They spoke candidly of the growth of Social Media and how far Social Media may grow in Malaysia. All three of them appeared to take the view that Social Media will be a major player in the dissemination of information in future. There were also survey results which indicated that people seems to trust what is written on famous blogs more than what the advertisement says. This may suggest that the trend of advertisement in the future may vary on the Internet.


The KL Bar IT Committee 2010.


Press conference by Deputy Minister after the first session! Reporters crammed in a small room just to hear Deputy Minister speak.

This will be my last term serving the KL Bar IT Committee. It was great serving the KL Bar IT Committee as it was an eye opener and gave me plenty of opportunity and training. I will concentrate in the Bar Council Intellectual Property Committee next year – it takes up quite a lot of my time serving two committees.

Till next year!

Quick, throw your CDs away! There’s a roadblock!

I recently contributed an article on LoyarBurok, a prominent Malaysian BLawg, regarding the powers of the police and the enforcement division of the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry’s (now the Ministry of Domestic Trade, Co-operatives And Consumerism. Some of you may have received the following emails below:

To all those CDs lover pls beware!

Please do not keep any pirated or burned CDs, DVDs, or VCDs in your car.

Police and Domestic Trade & Consumer Affairs Ministry’s enforcement division in Malaysia have started the operation to search and fine anyone who keep pirated disc inside their car especially through road block at all main road and expressways.

If any pirated or burned disc found inside your car will be charged RM400 per disc. Example 30 discs found means the fine will be RM12,000.

This is real. Another friend of mine from Seagate, today during lunch time, 5 CD x RM400 = RM2,000

One of the Plexus colleague brother-in-law caught by Police due to pirated CD in the car on the way to town for lunch with his friend in the afternoon. One CD fined RM400.

Please disseminate this to all your friends who are driving in Malaysia

Fehmes lawyer Edmund Bon asked me to address this issue and I subsequently wrote a short article on it. It is published at this page.

For the past few months, an email has been circulating alleging that police and the enforcement division of the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry’s (now the Ministry of Domestic Trade, Co-operatives And Consumerism) have started operations to search and fine anyone who keeps pirated discs inside their cars. The email alleges that these operations were carried out through roadblocks at main roads and expressways, and that persons caught in possession of pirated discs were fined RM400 per disc.

In fact, these stories have been circulating for some time now. A report in the Sun newspaper in April 2009 stated that the police set out roadblocks to nab anyone with pirated discs. However, the same report stated that the Ministry denied having such roadblocks being set up.

Whether or not such roadblocks have been set up, it leaves us with the question: Do the police or the Ministry have the power to search our vehicles for pirated discs?

Section 24 of the Police Act 1967 allows any police officer to stop and search without warrant any vehicle which he has reasonable grounds for suspecting is being used in the commission of any offence against any law in force. The Ministry has also authority to enter and search a vehicle without warrant provided that he has reasonable grounds for believing that delay in obtaining a search warrant would lead to the destruction of evidence.

Under section 41 of the Copyright Act 1987, it is an offence to possess, other than for private and domestic use, any infringing goods. Any person who has in his possession, custody or control three or more infringing copies of a work or recording in the same form is presumed to be in possession of such copies otherwise than for private or domestic use. This basically means that possession of a pirated disc for private and domestic use is allowed provided that the pirated disc do not exceed three or more copies of the same form.

The offence would attract a fine not less than RM2,000 and not more than RM20,000 for each infringing copy or imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or to both.

Can the police or the Ministry stop and search your vehicle?

In short, for now, if the police or Ministry have reasonable grounds to think that you are distributing pirated goods, (e.g. if you’re suspected to be a pirated VCD/DVD seller), they can stop and search your vehicle. Otherwise, they have no authority to stop and search your vehicle for pirated discs.

This situation may soon change.

The Government recently announced plans to amend the Copyright Act 1987 to make it an offence to keep pirated goods, similar to the offence of possessing stolen goods. Although the Government has not announced the details of the amendment, such news is worrying. This basically means that anyone in possession of pirated goods is committing an offence. Hence, any police, with reasonable grounds that there are pirated goods in a vehicle, may stop and search the vehicle.

What if the driver had purchased genuine songs from the internet and had it copied into a CD? The driver would have to prove and explain that he had genuinely purchased the song.

If I had downloaded software, music or movies into my computer from the Internet, does the police or Ministry has the authority to enter my house and search my computer? Based on the proposed amendment, the police or Ministry has the authority to do so.

Guidelines to allow the authorities to stop and search a vehicle for pirated goods should be clearly spelled out and made available to the public. The public should be given the right to use or copy copyrighted materials for their private use. Certain levies or exemptions should be given to the public if they are in possession of pirated goods unintentionally.

An outright ban of unauthorised possession copyrighted materials will create fear and chaos to the country and society.

On another note, United Kingdom will be amending their copyright laws to make them fit for the internet age. According to UK Prime Minister David Cameron, the law could be relaxed to allow greater use of copyright material without the owner’s permission. (Read more here.

How unfortunate, while UK is moving forward with the Internet age, Malaysian IP laws are going backwards.

Know your rights!

If you haven’t heard, 4 lawyers (or would be lawyers) were arrested by the police recently for distributing copies of the “Red Book”.

See the article by Malaysian Insider below.

Police see red over remand rights book
By Yow Hong Chieh
October 10, 2010

SRI PETALING, Oct 10 — Four legal aid volunteers trying to educate the public on their basic rights when faced with the police were themselves briefly detained today by police for distributing a book on remand rights.

Two lawyers and two chambering students from the Bar Council Legal Aid Centre (LAC) in Kuala Lumpur had been handing out the Bar Council’s “Red Book: Police and Your Basic Rights” to members of the public in Bukit Jalil here when they were arrested.

The four were taken to Sungei Besi district police headquarters at around 3.00pm for disseminating an “anti-police” publication, LAC KL chairman Ravinder Singh told The Malaysian Insider.

They were released some three hours later without charge. No statements were taken from them, and copies of the “Red Book” which had earlier been confiscated by the police were returned to them.

Ravinder said the Legal Aid Centre, an independent body under the Bar Council, was currently consulting its lawyers and would issue a statement soon.

The “Red Book” — launched in 2006 by de facto Law Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz — provides information on what to do when stopped, arrested or questioned by the police.

Legal Aid Centre volunteers handed out copies of the book in Sogo, Bintang Walk, Masjid Jamek and Bukit Jalil today to mark the start of National Law Awareness Week.

My Dad told me that during the The Communist Insurgency War in Malaysia, the police used to search premises for the “Red Book”. Those found with the “Red Book” are quickly whisked away by the police and never to be seen again. Apparently, this “Red Book” is the Little Red Book – a book filled with collection of quotations excerpted from Mao Zedong’s past speeches and publications.

A few people have asked me where they can download the Malaysian Bar’s Red Book. You can download the English version of the Red Book here and Malay version of the book here. You should print a copy and leave it in the car. 😛