SITIAWAN: Malaysia has sought the assistance of international music and film companies to trace those supplying content to local manufacturers of pirated VCDs and CDs.
Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said yesterday the assistance was necessary because albums and films are being made and distributed in Malaysia months before the official launch in their original country.
“For instance, last year we traced a case where a pirated album was sold in Malaysia three months before its launch. It involved 11 premises which had made RM228mil (US$60mil) profit in four years. The culprits will be charged soon,” Bernama quoted him as saying.
Muhyiddin said the ministry would seek the co-operation of the International Federation of Phonographic Industry to investigate how such contents could end up in the hands of illegal manufacturers.
He said similar efforts would be carried to check film piracy as quite a number of pirated foreign film VCDs were sold here before their official release.
He said this after the official opening of the ministry’s Seri Manjung office, near here, by Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Tajol Rosli Ghazali.
Muhyiddin also said the Government planned to give the powers of arrest to Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs enforcement officers to apprehend violators of the Copyright Act 1957.
He said the move would require amendments to the Act, which now states that the power to arrest and detain is vested only with the police.
He said at present enforcement officers could only issue summonses to violators of the Act.
Muhyiddin said once the matter was finalised by the attorney-general it would be submitted for Cabinet approval before tabling in Parliament.
“Hopefully this process will be completed within this year,” he said.
Muhyiddin also said that the crackdown on the sale of pirated CDs, VCDs and DVDs nationwide had been very successful.
“Over the last two years the sale of pirated CDs and VCDs at open places has reduced by 82.5%.
“In July 2001 there were 2,386 such outlets but this has been reduced to only 417 nationwide by the end of last year,” he said.
The ministry’s focus for this year was to educate the public on intellectual property rights and prevent loss of income for those who have patent rights over things they created and invented, said Muhyiddin.
An Intellectual Property Corporation would be set up in March, he added mainly to protect people from losing their royalty and patent rights.
The corporatised body, he said would also educate the public on the affected people’s rights and their loss of income as well as the reduced collection of taxes by the Government.
“Members of the public should be taught to respect other’s creativity by purchasing the original items and not pirated ones although these (copied) items are cheaper,” he added.