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Content producers puzzled in fight against digital piracy in Vietnam

Thursday, November 17, 2016, 17:31 GMT+7

Top representatives from local and international TV stations, broadcast companies, and film studios gathered at a conference in Ho Chi Minh City on Wednesday to discuss solutions to the rise of online piracy in Vietnam.

Free websites broadcasting pirated movies are booming in the Southeast Asian country, stealing movie-goers from cinemas, viewers from TV channels, and subscribers from paid streaming services.

Though most of the ‘dirty websites’ offering pirated movies are filled with ads for porn sites and other unhealthy services, a number of Vietnamese Internet users are unaware of risks posed by these websites and continue to frequent the platforms to view Hollywood blockbusters for free.

Users also risk falling victim to computer viruses and malicious software which can steal personal information and social network accounts after visiting those ‘dirty websites.’

These issues were put up for discussion by national broadcaster Vietnam Television, local media company BHD, and international guests including FOX Century 21 and Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia (CASBAA) at yesterday’s conference.

Representatives from the Korea Copyright Commission (KCC) and the Ho Chi Minh City Intellectual Property Association also joined the discussion.

In a bid to fight digital piracy, several Vietnamese content producers and copyright holders plan to form the Vietnam Content Alliance (VCA), modeled after the British Infringing Website List.

The Infringing Website List is a list of pirating and malicious websites which brands can reference before deciding to run ads there.

Websites that provide uncopyrighted content rely heavily on money earned from ad banners, so driving advertisers away from these platforms will discourage their operation, conference attendees said.

Supporters of the VCA are collecting more data and information before filing an official proposal with the government to form the alliance.

The alliance’s representative revealed at the conference that there are some 200 ‘dirty websites’ in Vietnam, 42 of which are guilty of “severe copyright violation and intellectual property infringement.”

Attendees also pointed out that the wide availability of pirated movies in Vietnam is financially hurting moviemakers.

In other countries, film studios rake in movie profits from both cinema and paid movie streaming services like Netflix.

A firm can gross 30 to 50 percent from theaters, and another 30 percent from online viewers. However, in Vietnam, the revenue from paid online users is zero.

BHD, a film maker and cinema operator, has recent thrown its hat into the ring by launching a paid movie streaming service.

The BHD service allows users to watch copyrighted movies online with different affordable monthly subscription packages, hoping to drive users away from pirated websites.

A company deputy director, Bui Bich Hanh, admitted there is a tough road ahead.

Hanh said the ‘dirty websites’ hold a big advantage: they do not pay copyright fees or invest in streaming quality.

“Sometimes we do not know where to start,” she said.

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