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Sisamouth’s songs protected

Khav Thorng Nhot, the widow of singer Sinn Sisamouth, looks on at the Ministry of Commerce in Phnom Penh yesterday as her family registers her late husband’s music for copyright protection.
Khav Thorng Nhot, the widow of singer Sinn Sisamouth, looks on at the Ministry of Commerce in Phnom Penh yesterday as her family registers her late husband’s music for copyright protection. Heng Chivoan

Sisamouth’s songs protected

In yet another sign of the government’s growing commitment to intellectual property protection, the Ministry of Commerce yesterday accepted an application to register more than 180 songs as the property of the family of famed Cambodian golden age singer Sinn Sisamouth.

At an event attended by the ministers of commerce and culture, Sisamouth’s son Sin Chanchhaya, 57, asked the ministries to take action against those who illegally copy his father’s work, the benefits from which the family hasn’t seen in the nearly 40 years since the icon’s death.

“I have evidence to prove [they are] my father’s masterpieces, such as melody compositions and 180 songs that were sung by my father,” Chanchhaya said.

“My father’s songs have been copied haphazardly since 1982,” he added. “I asked for intervention from the [Culture and] Fine Arts Ministry three times, but nothing was carried out.”

Chanchhaya said that the 180 tracks presented yesterday likely represent only a fraction of his father’s material, which he said could number in the thousands of songs.

Sisamouth’s widow, Khav Thorng Nhot, 75, said yesterday that living in the countryside of Stung Treng province, she rarely heard illegal recordings of her husband’s work, but that hearing any of his music always made her feel “nostalgic”.

However, she continued, her family had never made any money from the immensely popular music.

“We want some benefit from the songs,” she said.

Minister of Commerce Sun Chanthol and Minister of Culture Phoeurng Sakona accepted the family’s materials, with Chanthol promising to examine and process them with the aim of protecting Sisamouth’s work under the Kingdom’s intellectual property law.

According to Var Roth San, director of the ministry’s intellectual property department, copyright for a writer is valid for the writer’s lifetime plus 50 years. For Sisamouth, who died under the Khmer Rouge, the copyright would last another 20 years before entering the public domain, he said.

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