Copyright and Related Rights on the Internet in Vietnam | Print |
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Wednesday, 05 August 2009 07:00
 

Impacts of the Internet on socio-economic life

Changing ways of living and working

iq0kpMaking its first presence in Vietnam in November 1997, the Internet has to date been so familiar to everyone in the country. It has become an inseparable part of daily activities today and is expected to continuously make us surprise with experiments that would go beyond one’s imagination.  

Having emerged as a new phenomenon in cultural and technological spheres, the Internet has produced significant impacts that have definitely changes our lives, including ways of working. With the Internet, it is absolutely possible for us to work at offices, from homes, or elsewhere, or even during travelling trips. The use of the Internet makes the office no longer the office that is trapped in the four walls as we know it is. And with the Internet, the world of leisure comes to entertain us with endless experiments to share and explore.

It is really hard to calculate a full account of macro and micro changes stemming from the Internet.

The Internet creates an infrastructure for an information society

It can be said that the Internet has created a fundamental infrastructure for the modern information society. It has transformed the conventional mode of operation that public agencies have applied for a long time and served as a major tool to aid the establishment of e-government. The Internet has provided a one stop service for public agencies to handle administrative procedures. Taking the customs office as an example in the case as it has adopted the Internet based platform to provide e-customs clearance service, helping businesses shorten their time to clear customs procedures significantly. The use of the Internet has greatly reduced the workload for public agencies and streamlined administrative procedures for businesses.

The Internet provides venue for information globalization

The Internet has pooled all advantages of other means of communications that enable its users to have fastest access to a very huge store of information in the most effective manner and with the most powerful effect it would have. It can be said that in the globalization process, the Internet has shown its efficient role in connecting the globe, people, societies, and nations around the world. In addition to that, the Internet has helped countries and territories sharpen their competitive edge and further boost their economic strength during the globalization process..  

The Internet forms online communities and insiders (so called Netizen)

The Internet has created an environment for the establishment of online communities and their insiders. In the meantime, it has also displayed its other role – that is to bring the people together to the blogging, chat rooms, and forums....

Overview of Internet in Vietnam

Internet in Vietnam – growing fast

Today, digital technology has evolved into an industry that made the best use of the abundant resources available on the Internet for making profits. Acting not only as a virtual network for the globe to interact in the global business environment, the Internet itself provides an ideal business space that would bring huge benefits to the best exploiters.  

According to the Internet WorldStats (IWS), Internet users in Vietnam have been growing rapidly in recent years. After 12 years of coming to Vietnam, the number of Internet users in Vietnam has exceeded 20 million and it is forecast to hit 25-30 million by 2010. IWS experts viewed such a surge as a lucrative opportunity for businesses to invest in the field under various forms.

The following statistics below provide proof of the skyrocketing growth rate of Internet usage in Vietnam:

Year

(upto Dec.)

Users

User per

Population (%)

DomainNames (.vn)

2003

3,098,007

3.80

5,478

2004

6,345,049

7.69

9,037

2005

10,710,890

12.90

14,345

2006

14,683,783

17.67

39,924

2007

17,718,112

21.05

60,604

2008

20,834,401

22.40

92,992

2009

(upto June)

21,424,417

24.98

108,938

Miniwatts Marketing Group (MMG)’s ratings also showed that by the end of March, 2009, Vietnam ranked 18th worldwide in Internet users. In Asia, Vietnam stood behind China, Japan, India, the Republic of Korea, Indonesia and Iran in terms of the number of Internet users.

In the 2000-2008 period, the number of Vietnamese Internet users grew by 95 times - the fastest rate recorded in the world. 

Internet use by Vietnamese businesses:

Using emails: 88 percent; searching information: 64 percent; downloading/uploading files: 48 percent.

Internet use by individuals in Vietnam:

Reading news and searching information: 97 percent; using emails: 97 percent; online chatting or messaging: 88 percent; Logging in website: 77 percent; looking for placement: 41 percent.

Source: Vietnam Post and Telecommunications (VNPT)

Specific targets set to 2010:

-  Internet users account for 30-35 percent of the country’s population;

-  8-12 Internet subscribers/100 people (including 30 percent being broadband service subscribers);

-  All public agencies are connected to broadband Internet service;

-  100 percent of districts, 70 percent of communes and almost all communes in key economic zones are provided with public Internet access;

-  All research institutes, universities, colleges, vocational training schools, senior high schools and over 90 percent of junior high schools and hospitals nationwide are connected to broadband Internet service.

Source: Vietnam Post and Telecommunications (VNPT)

Major acts of infringement of copyright and related rights in digital environment

- Photocopying, producing, disseminating, publishing, displaying or communicating a work to the public by network or digital devices without permission of the copyright owner;

- Intentionally canceling or invalidating technical methods applied by the copyright owner to protect copyright of his or her work; .

- Intentionally erasing or amending electronic information on copyright management of a work.

- Removing or altering any right management information in electronic format without permission of the related rights owner.

- Intentionally canceling or invalidating technical methods applied by the related rights owner to protect his or her related rights.

Measures against infringement of copyright and related rights

The country’s law system has also boasted specific provisions detailing administrative, civil and criminal measures to deal with infringements of copyright and related rights. Of which, the civil sanctions required organizations and individuals to make compensation for incurred damages and destruction of commodities, raw materials and implements used to produce and trade in illegal goods. Meanwhile, the administrative measures included the imposition of a monetary fine of up to 500 million VND (equivalent US$ 30,000). Supplementary sanctioning measures included confiscating commodities, raw materials, and implements used to manufacture and trade in copies without permission of the right holders, and at the same time suspending production and business activities of the business entities involved.

Consequences remedies included forcible removal of originals and copies of works, performances, phonograms, video recordings and broadcasts already illegally transmitted on the digital networks, and compelling removal of copies of works, performances, sound/video recordings, and broadcasts illegally reproduced in the electronic form. The Penal Code has stipulated a maximum monetary fine that amounts to 1 billion VND and sentences ranging from six months to five years in jail for those who committed infringements of copyright involving factors that constitute crimes.

The Challenges of Vietnam

At present, the process of international integration of economy and trade and the development of the digital technology era and Internet have brought lots of opportunities and challenges on a global scale. Firstly, infringement activities of copyrights and related rights are cross-border activities, such as infringement activities against satellite signals carrying encoded programs, using optical disks for unauthorized duplication of copyrighted programs from one country for sale in another country. Organized crime related to copyrights and related rights, which happens widely and is very difficult to handle without global cooperation. In order to effectively combat these infringements, it is necessary to have awareness and cooperative actions in the scope of global solutions.

In Vietnam, the rate of infringement of copyright and related right is still high. Piracy activities happen regularly, for example piracy of printed matters, using music works without royalty payment to authors, using illegal computer programs, infringement to sattelitte signals carrying encoded programs, and so on.

We are now living in the era where economic and cultural globalization is taking place and where there is an information and technology boom that allow different forms of literary, scientific and artistic works protected by law to exist in the digital network – the format that gives people the ability to easily reproduce, disseminate and store those works.

The digital revolution in the fields of re-publishing, reproduction, and storage of digitalized information, including protected works, has created both positive and negative effects. On the one hand, it enabled the authors to introduce their works to a larger number of people more quickly, conveniently and economically than in the past. On the other hand, however, this technological advance has also prepared the ground for the creation of new illicit forms of exploitation and use of protected works.

The digital era has also brought challenges to intellectual property issues, concerning how the owners of copyright and related rights protect their rights and interests when they use new technologies to produce and sell their products in the context that illegal exploitation and unfair competition are rampant everywhere. The era has also challenged the right holders in self-defending their rights and State agencies in managing and enforcing copyright and related rights protection.

At present, Vietnam is facing multiple challenges in the protection of copyright and related rights on the Internet. Those challenges include:

- There is a lack of regulations in legal documents that mandate the Internet service providers’ responsibilities for copyright and related rights;

-There is a limitation in the public’s awareness on copyright and related rights on the Internet;

- Collective management organizations are not very competent to self-defend the rights of copyright and related rights owners;

- Enforcement forces are short of professional knowledge on copyright and related rights on the Internet;

- The Internet sparks new issues regarding the definition of appellations related to copyright;

- The Internet changes the relations and the balance of benefits held by the copyright owners and the users, requiring legal bodies to adopt efficient policies to ensure the harmony of these benefits.

Necessary issues to improve Vietnam legal regulation of copyright and
related rights on the Internet

Over the past years, the policy on copyright and related rights protection that Vietnam pursued has proven to work effectively. There has been a high sense of respect for copyright and related rights in almost all activities in the fields of culture and information and by the press, publishers, the cinema, artistic performers, plastic artists, and radio and television stations when they exploited and used protected works.

However, infringements of copyright and related rights remained rampant. The use of protected works without permission of copyright and related rights owners has been occurring across the spectrum of areas in life, especially in the very new and complicated environment – the digital world in general and the Internet in particular. Such copyright infringements caused harm to the rights and benefits of organizations and individuals both inside and outside the country, adversely affected creative activities, and hindered the country’s socio-economic and cultural development as well as its integration into the global economy.

To better its management and enforcement of copyright and related rights on the Internet, Vietnam needs to deploy the following tasks:

- To soon issue legal documents prescribing responsibilities of the Internet Service Providers (ISP) regarding copyright and related rights. In the coming time, the Ministry of Information and Communications will work with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism to work on and issue an inter-branch circular to define the responsibilities of the providers of Internet, telecommunication and intermediary services relating to copyright and related rights in an effort to implement the Prime Minister’s Instruction No. 36 on measures to enhance management and enforcement of copyright and related rights protection.

- It is necessary to issue specific regulation to forbid the uploading and downloading of protected contents in the absence of copyright owners’ consent.

- It is necessary to formulate regulations to balance rights and legitimate benefits of copyright owners and ISPs and the users who download text, video and audio programs from websites.

- It needs to adopt policies and effective measures to further improve collective management organizations’ capacity for managing and enforcing effectively laws on copyright and related rights protection.

- It needs to further perfect the legal system on copyright and related rights to make it more compatible with international standards.

Together with the making of a unified awareness on copyright and related rights protection, changing this awareness to enforcement laws, and together with a determination to act, surely we shall resolve all the said challenges and have a brighter future in enforcing copyright and related rights, including on the Internet in Vietnam.

Vu Ngoc Hoan (COV)

 
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