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DVD stores pledge to go legal

Motion Picture Association of Cambodia president Nareth Ung visits a CD and DVD stall at Russian Market
Motion Picture Association of Cambodia president Nareth Ung visits a CD and DVD stall at Russian Market yesterday to ask the vendor to join the MPAC. Vireak Mai

DVD stores pledge to go legal

With one successful raid under its belt, the Motion Picture Association of Cambodia continued its push to eradicate the unlicensed DVD trade yesterday, presenting vendors at Phnom Penh’s Russian Market and City Mall with the opportunity to join the MPAC – effectively a promise to stop selling bootleg DVDs.

According to MPAC president Nareth Ung, 15 vendors agreed to join, though some said they were holding off on signing the paperwork until they had enough cash on hand to cover the organisation’s yearly membership fees, which vary from $50 for small vendors to $500 for large production companies.

Shipments of properly licensed DVDs should begin arriving in the near future, Ung continued, and the Cambodian distributor CD World "is trying to find a way to negotiate for a cost that’s not too much for people to afford”, but vendors yesterday were nonetheless concerned about their bottom line.

“When we buy the original discs in the future, we will have bad business. Right now, we sell [illegal] copies for a dollar, but it’s still expensive for the customer,” said Ly Bon Neth, a vendor at Russian Market who said she was signing up with the MPAC because the studios it represents comprise practically the entire market.

“If we were not allowed to sell these, we would have to shut down the shop,” she said, noting that obtaining original discs used to be impossible, something that would change with MPAC membership.

City Mall vendor Ar Na, who signed up for MPAC membership yesterday, said that she too was concerned about making enough money under the new rules, but noted that selling illegal copies had cost her $1,000 in fines last year, and a $400 fine to the MPAC in last week’s raid.

The MPAC’s Ung yesterday maintained that vendors would succeed under the new framework, and reiterated his contention that properly licensing DVDs would create jobs in the long run.

“They’re doing the illegal stuff for so cheap for so long, so they’re afraid they can’t afford it, but [either] they can’t afford one disc, or the whole country can’t afford a job,” he said.

“Everybody’s afraid of change, but if you do the right things, change is good,” he added.

City Mall vendor Na, however, said she would reserve judgment until she knew how much the licensed discs would cost.

“If my stall becomes legal and I can earn enough for my rent, OK, I’ll be very happy,” she said. “But if I can’t earn enough for my rent, I won’t be happy about being legal.”

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