Addressing copyright protection and infringement issues

The objective of the workshop is to create awareness on the copyright enforcement to the law enforcement agencies and agencies from the copyright sector



To foster and enhance better understanding on the enforcement provisions under the Copyright Act of Bhutan, 2001 and build a better and effective coordination among law enforcement agencies and right owners when dealing with copyright infringement cases, the Department of Intellectual Property (DoIP), Ministry of Economic Affairs, conducted workshop on copyright enforcement on 17 November last week..

The workshop was organized for law enforcement agencies, including the judiciary, Revenue & Customs and the Royal Bhutan Police, and other relevant agencies and representatives from the copyright sector.

DoIP officials said an effective copyright enforcement is crucial for the authors and owners to secure their rights granted under the Copyright Act, 2001. However, due to lack of proper understanding and coordination among the law enforcement agencies, the authors and rights owners of copyright face challenges to effectively enforce their rights.

Further, the increasing use of digital technologies and the internet has made online copyright protection very vulnerable to infringements. Organizers said ease of copying and immediate distribution of such illegal copies to large numbers of people causes substantial harm and prejudice to the authors and owners of copyright. 

The Chief Executive Officer of Samuh Bhutan, Nyema Zam, said that the company experienced 11 cases of copyright violators related to films and a series. She said that these contents are circulated in various social media platforms and would have huge impact and repercussions on the content, quality and the right of the producers.

“One of the movies was downloaded and uploaded in Youtube by one of the viewers,” she said, adding such practices should be nipped in the bud.

Until it started getting uploaded on Youtube, she said it really impacted the sale of the content. In two week’s time, the sale of the content dropped down as people could access the infringed copy through the Youtube channel.

Nyema said most of the violators include young people who clearly don’t understand about copyright.

“If we do not take action fast, the contents can be circulated leading to decline in the overall sales of the original content. Respect for copyright issues in Bhutan is very minimal and most are not aware of the consequences,” she said.

DoIP Director General, Kinley T Wangchuk, said the proprietor or owner may use his property as he wishes and that nobody else can lawfully use his property without their owner’s consent. “Of course, there are generally recognized limits of the exercise of that right,” he said.

The DG added that for a small developing country like ours, this creative entertainment sector if used strategically and mindfully will also help in defining our culture and affirming our national identity.

Further, Nyema Zam said the problems will be severe if copyright is not protected in the country over the next two to three years.

She said advocacy on copyright violation and taking of stringent actions are very important, and that copyright infringement issues will continue to rise if not tackled today.

Meanwhile, the workshop provided the timely opportunity to key-players in the copyright value chain, and to discuss the common challenges faced by law enforcement agencies and rights holders, as well as provided a platform to agree to a collective way forward in order to make copyright enforcement more effective.

The workshop was part of the department’s initiative to improve the enforcement mechanism of copyright.