A New Copyright Act in Thailand will be enforced soon…

Many people think that copyright in Thailand means to copy something correctly. This includes everything from designer clothes and handbags to movie DVD’s, from top brand name watches to mobile phones.

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The ‘good’ copies are often referred to as ‘Real Fake Copies!’

This is because it’s so hard to tell the difference between the genuine article and the fake. The difference is of course in the price tag. A ‘good’ fake designer handbag may cost between 500 and 2,000 Baht whereas the genuine version may cost 10 ten times this or more.

It’s understandable why sales of cheap copies have boomed.

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Copyright laws do exist in Thailand and apply to online ‘virtual’ content as well as material real world merchandise. Musical melodies, lyrics, photos, video, original artwork, logo designs and original written work are all considered intellectual property. These creations of the mind and expressions of art have become free game online, especially since everything became so easily downloadable with the rise of social media and torrent distributers.

The Thai Commerce Ministry is urging people to study details of the new Copyright Act that has been drafted before sharing online information or buying and selling second-hand products.

This new law comes into force on 4th August and there are eight main features.

The first part deals with online plagiarism. This clause is aimed at protecting the creators of content published online, keeping tabs on how this content is exploited. Here is the most important part – Anyone sharing content must give credit to the owner or give details of its copyright. (Some content is licensed via agencies that control use of such materials. It is important to remember, all material that is has a copyright is considered intellectual property, it belongs to someone!)

The law then goes on to deal with punishing hackers of online passwords who go on to steal content for non-authorised use.

Next up is a clause that addresses improper use of other people’s original content for commercial purposes. People who violate this ruling will be subject to fines and possible jail sentences.

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Internet service providers will be empowered with the right to remove content that has breached the copyright law. Selling second hand books is allowed!

The Thai Supreme Court has ruled that illegal products can be seized and destroyed. This includes the right for the authorities to call for compensation from violators and wrong doers up to twice the value of the goods.

Deputy Commerce Minister Apiradi Tantraporn strongly advised people to make themselves aware of the Copyright Act before selling or sharing second hand products. She is hopeful to see less copyright violations following the introduction and enforcement of the Act.

It is also hoped that the international business community will see this as a step in the right direction in cracking down on all forms of piracy. This will ultimately encourage foreign investment in Thailand.

The fines imposed for prosecuted violators of the law range from 10, 000 Baht to 100, 000 Baht, but if the crime committed was for commercial gain, wrong doers could be looking at a jail sentence between three months to two years and a fines of 50, 000 Baht t0 400, 000 Baht or both!

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