Police raided four shops in Phnom Penh’s City Mall yesterday for allegedly selling pirated movies, a move that came a week after mall DVD vendors shut up shop to avoid a planned raid, the details of which were leaked beforehand.
Officers conducted yesterday’s raid accompanied by a representative from the Motion Picture Association of Cambodia (MPAC), who identified which titles violated copyright laws – 349 copies of which were seized, police said.
“Last week we came, but the store owners seemed to know first, but now they were open as usual,” said a national police officer at the scene who asked not to be named. “We are still continuing our activities to raid [shops] in order to eliminate the selling of copyright-infringing DVDs and VCDs, and warning other places to stop.”
According to the officer, the shop owners were made to sign a contract promising not to sell illegally copied films.
MPAC president Ung Nareth said yesterday that the shops would have typically carried more than the 349 illegal copies seized, but vendors again seemed to know that the crackdown was coming and hid most of their stock.
“Anyway, we found many DVDs and VCDs [that infringed on] copyright,” he said. “As you know, most movie producers are almost hopeless, and they have no incentive to produce [movies in Cambodia], because they will get no income from production as there are so many copyright-infringing DVDs and VCDs in the market.”
Nareth said yesterday that authorities had focused on the large stores at City Mall because they also distribute stock to other, smaller vendors.
Pich Chan Dara, 23, the owner of one of the raided stores, said that he downloaded and copied pirated films because they were cheap, and maintained that if he were to switch to properly licensed material, he wouldn’t be able to afford his rent.
“[Illegal copies] cost less than $1, and if we sell originals, it’s more than $5,” he said. “Sales would not be good.”
As the raid was being conducted, a group of some 10 DVD vendors from other markets arrived at City Mall to ask questions and express concerns about the crackdown.
Yo Kim Eng, 30, a DVD vendor at Tuol Tompoung market who came to City Mall, said she feared for her business.
“I came to ask police how we can buy originals,” she told the Post yesterday. “Police should delay the crackdown and educate the vendors.”