Sat, 22 Feb 2003

Ministry vows massive crackdown on copyright pirates

M. Taufiqurrahman and Yuli Tri Suwarni, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta/Bandung

Indonesia, realizing its image has been tarnished by becoming the world's third largest producer of pirated software and other copyrighted materials, was committed to conducting a nation-wide crackdown on the contraband, an official said on Friday.

Justice ministry copyright director Emawati Junus said that civil servant investigators throughout the country would team up with local police and prosecutors to launch a crackdown after the new copyright protection law took effect in July.

After one year of public education, law No.19/2002 on copyright protection comes into effect on July 29, 2003. The law stipulates a more severe punishment against acts of piracy.

"Once the law takes effect, the joint teams will collect evidence of pirated materials from vendors," Emawati told The Jakarta Post.

She said investigations would first center on major stores which were supposed to sell original materials. A warning letter would given to stores selling counterfeit products.

"If they give no response after three warning letters, police will confiscate all of their merchandise," she said, adding that charges would be filed afterwards.

Emawati said that as selling pirated materials was a major source of income for many people, the implementation of the new law would be gradual.

She, however, was quick to add that according to the new law, the legal process against piracy would be sped up to deliver justice.

"Under the new law, a legal dispute regarding copyright violation will be handled by the Commercial Court which must settle the case in no more than 90 days," she said, adding that under existing laws the legal process might take years to complete.

The United States has already placed Indonesia on its priority watch list over piracy activities. A recent report from the Business Software Alliance claimed that software developers suffered losses of US$80 million in Indonesia in 2001.

Separately, Association of Indonesian Recording Industry representative Arnel said that in 2002 the level of piracy against recorded materials had reached 1000 percent -- for every original there were 10 pirated versions.

He noted that the figure of pirated recording materials stood at 363 million, dwarfing sales of originals, which only reached 34.2 million.

Emawati told The Post that the ministry had completed drafting government regulations for the implementation of the new law.

"The drafts only need the approval from President Megawati Soekarnoputri to take effect."

The government regulations set further guidelines on the establishment of a Council on Copyrights to educate people. It also designates the government as the sole holder of Indonesia folklore.

Emawati said the law was intended to save Indonesia's standing in the international economy.

"This law is also aimed at boosting the creativity of the Indonesian people to develop themselves in arts and technology," she said.