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…
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?”