Fining telecommunication and internet services providers that violate copyright laws is proving difficult in Viet Nam even though the necessary legal system is in place.
According to the Viet Nam Internet Network Information Centre, Viet Nam has about 1.1 million domains that end in “.vn”, and hundreds of thousands of global domain names, as well as websites and social networks.
However, To Van Long, head of the Copyright Division of the Copyright Office of Viet Nam, said that only a few hundred websites had registered for copyright licences.
He added that online copyright violations still occured in many telecommunication services such as printing, publishing, music production, on-line media, software, social networks and digital searches.
A joint circular stipulating compensation for cyber copyright violations was issued last June but no cases had been reported, said Long.
According to the legal document, business owners are liable to pay damages pertaining to copyright violations and other related rights as prescribed by Vietnamese law. The circular also stipulates personal criminal liability for those violating copyrights when using social networks.
Vo Do Thang, director of the Athena Network Security Centre, said that although the new circular had many strict regulations, online service providers were still worried about its effectiveness.
The highest fine for copyright violations as regulated by Vietnamese law is up to VND500 million (US$24,000), however, Vu Manh Chu, director of the Copyright Office of Viet Nam, said that on-line copyright violations were becoming more popular, especially in the digital environment, as it was difficult to trace violations.
Long agreed, saying: “Copying and modifying website source code is the most difficult to discover. It takes us a lot of time.”
He explained that they only knew about violations when complaints were sent to the Copyright Division, and the division had received only 10 complaints relating to copyright violations so far this year, compared to the 30 registered in 2011.
Le Van Tuan, who owns websites and online social media networks, said that it was difficult to check the copyright of digital works because many of them are posted voluntarily for sharing purposes.
According to Thang, the authorities would find it difficult to settle digital-based copyright violations when websites and social networks have servers located abroad.
For Chu, the biggest obstacle impeding the control of online copywrite violations is poor public awareness: “People don’t care about the importance of copyright. They know they violate the law, but they still do it, in many sophisticated manners.”
“The public needs to be active in denouncing violations, whereas the media should take the lead in respecting copyright,” added Chu.