Cablegate: Vietnam: New Ipr Associations

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. Summary: GVN efforts to improve enforcement of
Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) continue to lag. However,
there are some encouraging signs that domestic industries
are attaching more importance to the need for IPR
protection. In recent years, several industries have
established associations to represent their interests with
IPR as a priority issue. This cable describes these new
associations and the steps they are taking to develop
themselves as effective advocates for development and
protection of IPR in Vietnam. End Summary.

Vietnam Software Association (VINASA)

2. VINASA is a non-profit organization established in 2001.
The association has 78 domestic and international member
companies, most of which are leading software firms
operating throughout Vietnam. VINASA member companies
employ about fifty percent of the total number of
professional programmers and account for approximately sixty
percent of software production in Vietnam. The Association's
primary responsibilities are to promote its members'
businesses and to expand their domestic and international
markets. VINASA also plays an important role in encouraging
the government to introduce new policies aimed at
stimulating demand for domestic software. In addition,
VINASA has identified protection of IPR as a priority issue,
noting its role in the development of the IT industry,
particularly with respect to attracting foreign direct

3. VINASA's chairman, Truong Gia Binh, is a member of the
National Steering Committee for the implementation of
Directive No.58 of the Politburo on the acceleration of ICT
applications and ICT development. Committee 58 plays a key
role in designing strategies for ICT development in Vietnam.
It also supervises the implementation of the GVN's master
plan for the industry, monitors the modification of ICT
regulations, and provides comments to the GVN on ICT-related
policy changes.

4. Despite acknowledging IPR's importance to the software
industry, VINASA has not initiated a formal dialogue with
the GVN on this issue. VINASA's Chairman, Binh, is the CEO
of FPT Corporation, one of the biggest joint stock
enterprises in Vietnam's ITC sector with about ten percent
state-owned equity. This, Binh has told econoffs, limits his
ability to speak out strongly on IPR-related issues. As
most of FPT's customers are government agencies, Binh is
concerned that if VINASA aggressively engages the GVN on the
IPR issue, FPT may lose some of its customers.

5. VINASA is working to establish international links with
other ICT organizations. It is a member of the World IT and
Services Alliance (WITSA), Asian-Oceania Computing Industry
Organization (ASOCIO) and Asia Information Communication
Technology Organization AICTO). VINASA is also seeking
cooperation with and funding from other IT-focused
associations and companies. It is working to develop a
cooperative relationship with the Indian-based National
Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM).
Additionally, VINASA has made efforts to network with the
Business Software Alliance (BSA) to learn from BSA's
experiences dealing with infringement and enforcement. Last
year, VINASA hosted a conference on "IPR roles for the
software industry" in cooperation with Microsoft, with
participation of representatives from both the GVN and the
software industry.

Vietnam center for Protection of Music Copyright (VCPMC)
--------------------------------------------- -----------

6. Founded in April 2002, VCPMC is the first non-profit
organization established entirely to protect the rights of
Vietnamese composers. VCPMC has about 500 composer members
and operates under the management of the Vietnam Musician
Association (VMA). (Note: The VMA falls under the
Communist Party's Committee on Ideological and Cultural
Affairs. Its membership includes most of Vietnam's
composers. End note.) VCPMC is supported in part by the
Ministry of Culture and Information (MOCI), which has
provided some funding to the Center and coordinates efforts
on legal and enforcement issues. The Center's budget comes
primarily from commissions on the royalties it collects on
behalf of its members, assistance from the State budget,
donations from domestic organizations and individuals, and
overseas donations.

7. The VCPMC's primary purpose is to help its members
collect royalties for the use of their works - something
that has historically been very difficult for composers in
Vietnam to do because of the lack of a strong legal
framework as well as a general lack of information and
understanding about copyright. Additionally, VCPMC
cooperates with relevant government agencies to disseminate
copyright-related laws and regulations. In its first year
of operation, the Center collected about 300 million VND
(approximately US$ 19,000) for its members. However, the
Center's success has been restricted to Hanoi and Ho Chi
Minh City. In other areas, VCPMC has had little success in
collecting royalties. In Hanoi, the Department of Culture
issued specific guidelines on payment of royalties, which
facilitated the Center's efforts to collect royalties.
However, other cities and provinces have not been willing to
follow suit and many users still refuse to pay royalties.

8. The Center has also found it difficult to collect fees
from small restaurants and bars, karaoke shops, publishing
houses, and broadcasting agencies. Even state-owned
broadcasting agencies often do not pay copyright fees.
VCPMC has worked with the GVN's Broadcasting Committee on
drafting a proposal for the Ministry of Culture and
Information (MOCI) to promulgate on regulation of fees
charged to broadcasting agencies. The Center has also
proposed requiring karaoke owners to buy special CDs and
tapes made by the Vietnam Recording Association whose prices
would already include the copyright fees. However, The
Center has been unable to reach agreement with karaoke shops
and MOCI officials on the issue of royalties.

9. VCPMC is trying to establish international linkages with
other composer organizations. The International
Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC)
has provided the Center with training and has helped VCPMC
organize seminars. VCPMC is in the process of joining
CISAC, and hopes to be accepted in 2004. (Note: the delay
in Vietnam's membership is due to the GVN's poor record on
copyright protection and the fact that it has not yet joined
the Berne Convention. End note.) VCPMC also cooperates
with other international organizations, such as KODA (a
Danish society that administers Danish and international
copyrights for composers, writers and music publishers) and
the Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and
Publishers (JASRAC) to learn from their management

Recording Industry Association of Vietnam (RIAV)
--------------------------------------------- ---

10. On June 16, 2003, the Minister of Interior issued a
Decision on the establishment of the RIAV. MOCI Vice
Minister Tran Chien Thang was selected to be RIAV's
chairperson in August. RIAV has 45 members, including
recording studios, lawyers, filmmakers and legislators.
RIAV's top priority is to fight CD and DVD piracy. RIAV
plans to join forces with local authorities to enhance
copyright protection efforts and provide an intermediary
between the owners and users of copyright works. In
addition, RIAV's objectives include helping its members with
contract negotiations, helping collect royalties, providing
advice on legal rights and responsibilities in using
recording products, and adjudicating disputes. It also plans
to provide advice and make recommendations to the GVN on the
formation and revision of copyright policy.

11. RIAV's recording producer members have committed to pay
musicians' copyright fees of VND 500,000 (about USD 31) for
each song recorded in a disk/tape. RIAV has also signed a
contract with the VCPMC to enforce regulations and legal
documents on the use and collection of copyright fees from
musical works. It also works with the MOCI Performing Arts
Department to devise payments for musicians and performing
artists. Tape and disk recording producers and IPR
practitioners have expressed hope that RIAV will
significantly contribute to the protection of copyright
owners. The RIAV's vice president has said he believes "RIAV
will have a more powerful voice than individuals and
companies to ask local authorities to conduct investigations
into illegal copying."

12. COMMENT: Developing a domestic constituency interested
in IPR issues will be critical to raising this issue on the
GVN's priority list. Right now, most of the pressure to
improve IPR enforcement comes from the U.S. and Vietnam's
other trade and investment partners. Although these
associations have a long way to go in organizing themselves,
establishing a greater level of independence and developing
effective lobbying tactics, it is a positive sign that some
IPR-dependent industries have recognized the importance of
IPR and the need to advocate for stronger GVN policies and
enforcement in this area.

© Scoop Media

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