Mon, 24 Feb 2003

Legislation not sufficient to combat piracy

M. Taufiqurrahman, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The recording and publishing industry in the country expressed their pessimism in regards the government's drive to curb piracy, due to its reluctance to fully enforce the new copyright law.

A representative from the Recording Industry Association (ASIRI), Arnel Affandi, said that the government's leniency toward those who violate the law would backfire on the campaign against piracy.

Recently, Emawati Junus, the Director of Copyright, Industrial Design, Integrated Circuit and Trade Secrets at the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, said the ministry would only reprimand offenders three times before bringing them to justice.

The government has pledged a nationwide crackdown targeting only vendors selling pirated goods, which will involve the police.

"Under the new law, piracy is clearly a crime, so why would the government only send warning letters to deviant vendors?" Arnel commented, referring to Law No. 19/2002 on copyright.

Copyright violations carry a maximum sentence of five years in jail or a fine of Rp 500 million (US$56,180).

Arnel said the lenient policy proved that the government had no political will in combating the widespread piracy.

He suspected the planned crackdown would be similar to the ongoing police operations against piracy, which have been ineffective.

"In fact, police have managed to trace pirated recordings to the source, but I don't know why they haven't caught them yet," Arnel said.

Separately, Secretary General of the Indonesian Publishers Association (IKAPI) Robinson Rusdi said government officials lacked a commitment to implementing the copyright law.

"We don't want past experiences, in which judges at court handed light sentences to convicted pirates, squandering all the hard work of publishers to bring them to justice," Rusdi said.

Police, he said, sometimes asked a great amount of money when publishers demanded a crackdown on piracy.

He urged that the new copyright law be enforced rigidly to deter copyright violations, which have been overwhelming and have cost the industry great losses.

The latest survey by ASIRI showed that, in 2002, the recording industry alone lost Rp 17 trillion (US$1.8 billion) from piracy. It also named Glodok electronics market in West Jakarta as the hub of pirated goods.

There are no exact figures on the loss suffered by the publishing industry in the country, but IKAPI made a striking revelation: In a raid on the Senen book market in Central Jakarta, a publisher and the police confiscated four titles of pirated books worth Rp 280 million from only one vendor. IKAPI has around 500 registered members at present, so the total amount of losses to the industry can only be surmised.

Book publishers have made independent efforts to combat the piracy.

"We have our own team to probe into pirate activities, but it can't do much due to a lack of funds," Rusdi said. IKAPI Jakarta is the only branch actively promoting the drive against piracy.

Considering that expensive retail prices have fueled the production of pirated books, IKAPI is seeking ways to lower the price of books amid increases in the cost of paper and in various taxes.

"Apart from combating piracy, the government should make an effort to create a healthy environment for the publishing business, such as lifting copyright taxes and easing customs for imported paper," Rusdi said.