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Rip-offs strike wrong chord

Music CDs from Town Production and M Production companies sit on a sales rack in Phnom Penh’s Kandal market
Music CDs from Town Production and M Production companies sit on a sales rack in Phnom Penh’s Kandal market yesterday. Hong Menea

Rip-offs strike wrong chord

Slapping Khmer song lyrics over international hits or ripping off the creative content of foreign-produced music videos is a practice in the Kingdom that must end within one year, Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts officials said at a conference in the capital yesterday.

A crackdown on those copying creative and intellectual property is designed to inspire Cambodians to create their own work, said Sin Chan Saya, a department director at the ministry.

“Our strategy is to push [Cambodian artists] to create and produce melodies, compositions and karaoke movies for themselves instead of copying others,” Saya said.

Cambodian copycats often repurpose the melody or composition of an international track along with the storyline and visual design of the accompanying music video, according to Chan Saya.

National artists, he added, have one year to kick the habit.

“In 2015, Cambodia will be a member of the World Trade Organization agreement, after we were suspended for three years because we didn’t properly eliminate the copyright violations,” he said.

International pressure to enforce the Kingdom’s copyright laws eased in June when the World Trade Organization agreed to extend a waiver that frees least developed countries (LDCs), including Cambodia, from cracking down on infringements for another eight years.

Commonly protected products include books, music, film and software – creative mediums that were all touched upon during the event.

The WTO move, proponents of the extension say, allows LDCs the continued opportunity to access technology that may otherwise be unaffordable through the protection of intellectual property laws.

Efforts to round up pirated DVDs will be under way in the next six months, according to Ung Nareth, president of the Motion Picture Association of Cambodia (MPAC), which he founded in June.

“Creative copyright crimes in Cambodia are happening all the time and it’s a real tragedy. The only way this will end is if the sellers are brought before the courts,” Nareth said, adding he was concerned over a lack of commitment from local production companies.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY AMELIA WOODSIDE

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