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Officials Renew Efforts Against Digital Piracy

Phnom Penh's video vendors are facing a new crackdown by authorities, who warn the sale of pirated copies CDs or DVDs will lead to jail or fines.

"We will not allow the illegal CDs and DVDs to be sold in Cambodian markets," said Kong Kang Dara, director of the cinema secretariat of the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts. "We must strengthen the Cambodian intellectual property law and promote the protection of intellectual property."

Kong Kang Dara is a member of a newly formed joint committee comprised of authorities from the ministries of Interior, Defense, Justice, Women's Affairs, and Culture. The committee met with more than 250 vendors Friday to warn them of the impending crackdown.

Under a national subdecree, vendors who are caught selling pirated material will first face a fine of $2.70 per illegal disc. Those who don't comply will face the courts, under an intellectual property law that allows for one year in jail and a fine of $5,250.

"We will use secret, strong and clear tactics to confiscate the illegal CDs and DVDs, because it is a necessary time to promote legal products and innovation," Kong Kang Dara said.

Leu Siv, a CD and DVD shop owner at Central Market, said she had heard the crackdown was coming and had stopped selling illegal copies for fear of facing fines. Asked whether the crackdown would hurt her business, she only laughed.

Lay Sokhok, chief of Sunday Production, which produces karaoke and music CDs and DVDs, welcomed the official crackdown.

His company loses at least $200,000 per year in sales due to pirated copies of his work in Cambodian markets, he said.

Cambodia is facing a 2013 deadline from the World Trade Organization to eliminate the sale of pirated content.

Phnom Penh has more than 1,000 stalls that sell pirated versions of movies, karaoke and music, Kong Kang Dara said, but that number does not include mobile vendors who move from place to place boxes of pirated goods.

Authorities confiscate more than 10,000 illegal CDs and DVDs per year, he said.