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Panel discussion pinpoints problems with intellectual property rights in Vietnam music industry

Thursday, April 23, 2015, 16:01 GMT+7
Panel discussion pinpoints problems with intellectual property rights in Vietnam music industry
A participant is seen raising questions for guest speakers at a panel discussion on intellectual property rights organized by the U.S. Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City on April 20, 2015.

A panel discussion on intellectual property rights in the music industry took place in Ho Chi Minh City early this week, suggesting several solutions to how to make Vietnamese people more conscious of this issue. The discussion, which saw the participation of experts in the music industry, law and intellectual property rights, was organized by the U.S. Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City on Monday within the framework of the World Intellectual Property Day (April 26).

Several piracy instances were cited at the event, moderated by Peter Fowler, Regional Intellectual Property Attaché of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USTPO), to show the importance and urgency of intellectual property rights in Vietnam.

Local saxophonist Tran Manh Tuan shared his own experience of getting involved in a piracy hassle, saying that his two new songs were copied and published widely in the ‘black market’ only a few days after he performed the artworks on television. 

Pham Cam Tu, a representative in Vietnam of the Motion Picture Association of America, pointed out another example in which a Vietnamese website has illegally uploaded the copied version of blockbuster “Fast and Furious 7,” attracting over one million views while the film is simultaneously screened in the cinema.

Tran Manh Hung, managing lawyer at Baker & McKenzie Vietnam, suggested some solutions for stopping copyright infringement in the Southeast Asian country, including the enforcement of the rights and changes to Vietnam’s education system to raise people’s awareness of the issue.

According to Tran Thi Bich Ngoc, producer of Indochina Production, even the copyright owners have not fully understood their rights.

The speaker said she once contacted a deceased local musician’s relatives to ask for the right to use his music. “His daughter asked, ‘Why do you have to call me? Everybody uses it, so just feel free to use the song’ and then hung up the phone,” Ngoc said, adding that asking to pay copyright fees is also a difficulty in Vietnam.

Roland Vongphasouk, the chief representative in Vietnam of Universal Music Group, a U.S.-based, French-owned multinational music corporation, said that the firm has cooperated with such music sharing websites as Zing, NhacCuaTui, and NhacVui to distribute copyrighted music during the last three years.

“We want to find ways to increase the value of music,” he said, adding that the firm is trying to work with local producers, composers, and singers to promote intellectual property rights as listening to music for free on the Internet is a way to devalue songs’ worth.

The biggest challenge in Vietnam, Vongphasouk said, is that users do not see downloading music without copyright as a crime because there is no victim. This mindset also affects youngsters’ motivation to pursuit a music career as there is no mechanism to protect them from piracy, he said.

Vongphasouk cited the successful music industry of South Korea as a clear example of how intellectual property rights benefit, saying that the East Asian country also faced the same piracy issue five years ago.

“Now, it is hard to pirate Korean music, which helps increase the music value and that is how we have K-pop today,” he added, hoping that Vietnam will have its own V-pop one day.

Peter Fowler from the USTPO emphasized the importance of having strong intellectual property rights in Vietnam as that will help attract greater investment from foreign firms and contribute to make the country become a true Asian tiger.

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Local saxophonist Tran Manh Tuan performs at a panel discussion on intellectual property rights organized by the U.S. Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City on April 20, 2015. Photo: Binh Minh/Tuoi Tre News

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Local saxophonist Tran Manh Tuan talks with Peter Fowler, Regional Intellectual Property Attaché of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, at a panel discussion on intellectual property rights organized by the U.S. Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City on April 20, 2015. Photo: Binh Minh/Tuoi Tre News

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