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Cablegate: New Anti-Piracy Mou Brings Malls Into the Fight

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DE RUEHBK #5075 2301026
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 181026Z AUG 06
FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1048
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC

UNCLAS BANGKOK 005075

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE PASS USTR
USDOC FOR JKELLY, SWILSON
USDOC PASS USPTO

E.O. 12958:N/A
TAGS: ECON KIPR TH
SUBJECT: NEW ANTI-PIRACY MOU BRINGS MALLS INTO THE FIGHT

REF: BANGKOK 3477

1. Summary: On August 16, 39 representatives from Thai law
enforcement, government, IP rights holders and retail establishments
signed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on prevention and
suppression of intellectual property piracy. Owners of malls where
pirated goods are widely available have been brought in under the
MOU for the first time and given duties and responsibilities for
preventing sales of illegal merchandise by lease holders in their
establishments. The new MOU is a modest step forward in IPR
enforcement, but rights holders consider it an important one. End
Summary.

2. The new MOU replaces a June 2004 MOU, and is based largely on
the earlier version. The MOU sets out responsibilities for IPR
owners, law enforcement, local authorities and the RTG Department of
Intellectual Property, and for the first time owners of noted retail
establishments where pirated products are sold. Retailers were
hesitant to sign earlier drafts of the MOU, recognizing that the MOU
delineated a number of duties and responsibilities for them but no
apparent benefits. Mall owners had stated concerns over liability
issues, and managed to include a clause holding rights holders
responsible for compensation for damages if a shop's lease was found
to have been unjustly terminated for piracy. In the end, only one
mall owner, MBK, declined to sign the MOU.

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3. Rights holders applauded the MOU's inclusion of store owners,
signifying it as an important step in encouraging cooperation from
malls that have traditionally turned a blind eye to piracy.
However, they recognized that implementation would be a different
story and have realistic expectations on how much can be
accomplished. Nevertheless, movie and recording industry reps said
they planned to follow carefully the MOU's provisions and hold mall
owners to their commitments. The Motion Picture Association's local
rep suggested that recalcitrant mall owners could be brought up on
conspiracy charges for aiding sales of illegal merchandise if they
failed to cooperate.

4. The MOU is also notable for its inclusion of the Department of
Special Investigations (DSI) (similar to the U.S. FBI), and the
Bangkok Metropolitan Authority (BMA), which has responsibility over
street vendors. DSI has shown enthusiasm in taking on IPR
infringement cases, but BMA expressed doubts over its limitations in
controlling street sales of pirated goods. Its commitment to the
MOU is questionable, but as with retailers, rights holders are happy
to have them under the same tent.

So much for cleaning the streets
--------------------------------

5. RTG plans to sweep the streets clean of piracy for June and July
in celebration of the King's 60th year on the throne (reftel) were a
bust. With the exception of one week when all street vendors,
including fruit carts and craft vendors, were kept off the streets
no concerted efforts against piracy took place. After the one week
break, pirate retailers returned to the streets in force with no
apparent impact on sales.

6. Ironically, on August 1, the day after the special enforcement
period had ended, police made their biggest seizure of the year,
raiding two houses and netting 300,000 pirated CDs and DVDs. A
hapless employee who drove up to one of the houses as the raid began
had his Toyota SUV seized as well as a thousand discs found inside
the vehicle. Altogether police seized 42,191 music CDs and 35,465
movie DVDS. The rest of the booty was "series movies" including
sets of TV series "Lost", "24", and popular Korean soap operas.
BOYCE

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