HA NOI (VNS)— Low public awareness has led to an alarming level of copyright violations in Viet Nam and authorities need to act urgently to curb them, authors and publishers say.
At a recent workshop held in the capital city on collective management of copyright in a digital era, they said photocopy firms must be forced to pay for reproducing books and other copyrighted material.
"In people's awareness, there is almost no space for authors' copyright and intellectual property," said Nguyen Kiem, vice chairman of the Viet Nam Reproduction Rights Organisation (VIETRRO).
"People don't steal single books but they steal the authors' right and the right to publish. The existence of illegal printing workshops throughout the country provides ample evidence."
Doan Thi Lam Luyen, general secretary of VIETRRO, said educational institutions were among the biggest copyright violators with thousands of books, research works and course books copied everyday.
Luyen proposed that concerned agencies charge owners of photocopiers copyright fees.
VIETRRO has discussed this issue with the Ministry of Education and Training and plans further meetings later this year on reaching "satisfactory co-operation" between both sides, she said.
Around 20 million people use products from photocopiers every year, and three-fourths of them work in education sector, she noted.
"Of course, we cannot charge fees without a concrete foundation.
"For example, Government's Decree No 61 says that the students should be charged VND40 (less than 0.002 US cents) per photocopied page.
"On average, a student gets 200 pages of documents photocopied per year. That's why VIETRRO is thinking of proposing a fee of VND8,000 (less than 40 US cents) per student per year. I think the fee is not too high."
VIETRRO has discovered hundreds of online pages illegally using digitalised content, the workshop was told.
Since its establishment in 2013, the organisation has started to grant publishing permissions in the digital field and earned around VND700 million (US$33,000).
"Our organisation doesn't have the right to fine people and institutions, we only can ask for co-operation from concerned agencies to shut down websites violating copyrights once too often," Kiem said. "The problem is no longer a matter of some individual committing a violation. It has become an important socio-economic issue." — VNS