Thailand Moves To Amend Copyright Law To Regulate Royalties 19/12/2007 by Sinfah Tunsarawuth for Intellectual Property Watch 2 Comments Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)By Sinfah Tunsarawuth for Intellectual Property Watch BANGKOK – Thailand’s lawmakers on Tuesday finalised a draft bill to amend its copyrights law in an effort to regulate the collecting of royalties in domestic music industry, which bill proponents say has been subject to extortion by gangsters and corrupt law enforcers. The bill, finalised on 18 December, requires those wanting to collect royalties on copyrighted works to incorporate their business into a limited company known as a “collecting company” and seek a permit for such operation from a regulatory committee set up under the proposed bill. These collecting companies would be required to publicly declare the works for which they hold the copyrights, rate of royalties they will collect from users, and how they will distribute the royalties collected among the various copyright holders. Those who continue to collect royalties without complying with procedures under the new law could now be subject to a maximum jail term of two years or a fine of 800,000 Thai baht ($23,680), or both. Thailand’s current Copyrights Act, in force since March 1995, contains no provision specifically dealing with royalties collection. Banyong Limprayoonwong, deputy director general of the Department of Intellectual Property at the Ministry of Commerce, said in an interview: “The amendment is meant to protect copyright holders, who now will be ensured they will be paid their royalties and at a rate they will know in advance, and users, who will be protected under the new law if they pay the royalties required.” “Those who will lose are extortionists and corrupt officers who have been demanding money from karaoke parlours and other entertainment places,” Banyong said. He added that while in other countries collecting royalties on copyrighted works is dealt with by the private sector, in Thailand the government had to intervene because the various Thai parties could not negotiate among themselves to form a single organisation for the collection and distribution of the proceeds among the parties concerned. The entertainment business that uses Thai copyrighted music most is karaoke parlours, which are the key issues intended to be addressed by this new bill. Banyong said karaoke operators once rallied in front of his department office and blocked the main building entrance in demanding the government’s assistance to protest that they had to pay royalties on same pieces of music to more than one party claiming to have the rights over the works. The 1995 act deals with various kinds of copyrighted works from music and art objects to film and broadcasting, and various rights of copyright owners, which include the rights of duplication and licensing. The proposed amendment, meanwhile, deals specifically with collecting royalties for the right to communicate to the public of musical works, at least for the first five years after the enforcement of the amendment. After the five years, the Ministry of Commerce can decide whether these collecting companies shall be entitled to collect royalties on other kind of rights of copyrighted works or not. During the scrutiny of the draft bill, which this Intellectual Property Watch reporter was permitted to sit through, committee members from the two biggest sound recording companies in Thailand – GMM Grammy and RS Promotion – voiced their objection to allow collecting companies to handle royalties on the rights to duplication. Their concern is also shared by copyright holders of foreign music. Piset Chiyasak, an advisor to a joint venture of Music Copyright (Thailand) and Phonorights (Thailand), said in a separate interview that copyright holders of foreign music do not want to transfer the right to duplication to collecting companies set up under the proposed amendment. The joint venture – representing the world’s biggest sound recording companies, including Warner Music, Sony BMG, EMI and Universal Music – holds copyrights and collects royalties on over 800,000 pieces of foreign music in Thailand. Currently the joint venture is not incorporated under Thai law, but would have to do so if the amendment bill becomes law. Banyong of the Department of Intellectual Property said despite the large volume, collection of royalties on foreign music has been without any problem. In comparison, royalties are being collected on 130,000 Thai songs. The draft bill will now go to the full sitting of the National Legislative Assembly for final approval before becoming law. Sinfah Tunsarawuth may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related "Thailand Moves To Amend Copyright Law To Regulate Royalties" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.