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Bootleg backlash begins as artists hit back

Update: February, 06/2013 - 11:48

HA NOI (VNS) — The famous comedian Xuan Bac has sued the DMC film studio and the Viet Sky Art and Event Co for alleged copyright violation, complaining that a comedy routine he performed was reproduced and distributed by them without his permission.

Baec’s original comedy Day Yeu Vo (How to Love Your Wife) was retitled as Ai So Vo Hon Ai (Who Is More Afraid of His Wife?) and included on DVDs recently issued by the companies.

“The comedy was re-recorded, resulting in a very bad visual quality,” Bac said. “That release has not only affected my own reputation but has cheated audiences.”

The discs, Bac said, also reproduced repertoires of comedians Quang Thang and Quoc Khanh without their agreement. All of them have petitioned the Association of Stage Artists and the Ha Noi Police Department to stop distribution of the discs.

The head of the Department of Performing Arts of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Nguyen Dang Chuong, said the department was co-operating with ministry inspectors to investigate the case in response to Bac’s petition.

“We have found that the product Golden Smile 2 by the DMC Film Studio DMC and the Viet Sky Co has violated four regulations, committing copyright violation, fraudulently trading in the name of a cultural production, unlawfully using a copyright stamp, and violating the Law on Advertising,” Chuong said.

The demand for entertainment product rises ahead of the lunar new year holiday, and Vietnamese performers and film studios often release products during this time, opening the door for bootlegged and pirated copies.

While authorised dealers like Viet Nam Music Publishers and Hoa Guom Audio in downtown Ha Noi see few customers, private shops sell hundreds of copies everyday. Located mainly in small alleys on Hang Bai Street or in the Cho Troi area, these DVD shops draw customers with copies at cheap prices. A DVD costs VND20-25,000 (about $1) in one of these shops, about one quarter of the price of authorised product.

Many bookstores and supermarkets around the capital city also sell pirated DVDs, and wandering street vendors also contribute significantly to availability of bootleg products.

Pop singer My Linh suggested one solution to the problem might be to reduce the price of legitimate products.

“If producers reduced the prices of their products, more people could afford a quality copy and would avoid illegal copies,” she said. “They should also use technology to block recording and copying.”

Composer Nguyen Van Chung urged authorities to more strictly enforce the intellectual property laws.

“In addition to fines, trading in products that violate copyright should be treated as a crime,” Chung said.

According to the deputy inspector of the city’s Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Tran Thi Hoa, coping with the copyright violations would be a long-term battle.

“Increasing public awareness of copyright is an important part of that battle,” she said. — VNS

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