Cambodia Cracks Down on Copyright

Phnom Penh – With the opening of Cambodia’s first two licensed cinemas, Legend Cinemas and Sabay Cineplex, Cambodian authorities have begun to crack down on pirated DVDs. The new laws apparently came into effect at the beginning of November and prohibit vendors from selling copies of films that are currently screening at either Legend or the Cineplex.

According to sources in Sorya Mall and the Russian Market, police conducted raids earlier in the month, warning vendors of the new laws and removing copies of all currently screening movies from their shelves. Vendors were also warned of future raids which would this time include fines for stocking any of the currently screening films.

It isn’t apparent at first look, however, after closer inspection you’ll notice that there are a number of films now missing from their shelves. I see this as a positive step forward for copyright in Cambodia. There has been international pressure in the past on Cambodia for its lackluster enforcement of copyright however without a licensed cinema presence nor any availability of original media content, there has never been much incentive.

However with a burgeoning middle-class, it made sense for Cambodia to open not just one but two licensed cinemas. And now that they are here to stay, some copyright enforcement is needed in order to ensure their longterm viability.

However, change may simply be only surface-deep. As one Russian market vendor told me, and read between the lines here: “You can buy it, we just can’t sell it.

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