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Feature film piracy steady, but porn down: gov’t

Authorities question a store employee as they sort through a pile of discs in Phnom Penh’s City Mall
Authorities question a store employee as they sort through a pile of discs in Phnom Penh’s City Mall last year during a search for titles that violate copyright laws. Vireak Mai

Feature film piracy steady, but porn down: gov’t

More than 10,000 counterfeit CDs, VCDs and DVDs were seized around the country during the first four months of 2015 as part of an ongoing anti-piracy campaign by the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts.

Kong Kan Thara, undersecretary of state at the ministry, said yesterday that the amount of pirated pornographic DVDs has drastically decreased across the Kingdom this year but the sale of counterfeit feature films remains steady, despite a two-year campaign to curb copyright infringement in Cambodia’s entertainment sector.

“We will now continue the anti-piracy campaign in Kampot and Takeo provinces,” said Thara, adding that a complete report had yet to be compiled.

Thara noted the ministry did not arrest the vendors, and instead chose to educate them about legal sales practices.

While local vendors will avoid retribution, Thara warned that those who produce and manufacture copyright discs will be targeted for arrest and face serious penalties, including up to two years in prison.

On Wednesday, Nhiek Kunthy, a 29-year-old pirated CD and DVD producer, was sentenced to a six-month jail term and a fine of more than $61,000.

“Although we destroyed several thousand discs, copies of counterfeit movies still have a steady presence in the market,” he added.

Nareth Ung, president of the Cambodian Motion Picture Association, believes the culture of counterfeit merchandise will not change until large foreign movie studios are willing to distribute the rights to legal, original DVDs that are commensurate with Cambodian consumers’ buying capacity.

“[Right now], they are so concerned [about] the price, they are so concerned about making a profit, nobody really cares about changing the law,” he said.

Ung explained that it is unreasonable for the government to entirely crack down on illegal DVDs because there is not a legal, affordable option to replace the counterfeit market.

“I’ve seen progress,” he said, referring to CBWorld, Cambodia’s first fully legal DVD store, “but it is not enough”.

A vendor in Pramp Makara Market, in Tuol Kork district, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said he feared a raid, but agreed the presence of counterfeit goods was inevitable. “Many people come to rent or buy discs,” he said. “But not the original discs, because of the expense.”

Despite the raid, he added, both counterfeit and legitimate discs will remain for sale in the market.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY REBECCA MOSS

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