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04-05-03, 11:07 AM #1
Thailand's war on pirated CDs begins
Three-month blitz starts on low note, with just one man nabbed as vendors get wind of police raids
Singapore Straits Times, May 4th 2003
By Nirmal Ghosh
BANGKOK - Thailand has embarked on another three-month crackdown - this time against pirated CDs, VCDs and DVDs.
The target is not just to stamp out those who infringe copyrights with impunity but also to shore up Mr Thaksin Shinawatra's image as a no-nonsense Prime Minister intent on cleaning up the country.
But the campaign, which comes back-to-back on a just-concluded anti-drug drive, got off to a low-key start.
Many CD vendors clearly got wind of the raids and had shut their shops.
Six task forces, comprising 100 enforcement officials, fanned out across Bangkok's most notorious pirated CD retail centres on Thursday.
But they succeeded in seizing only around 5,000 discs and arrested just one man - a paltry figure, considering that Thailand is said to be one of the biggest producers of pirated CDs in Asia. Its annual production line capacity runs at 1.2 billion CDs compared with the legitimate demand of 60 million.
Thai officials expect up to five million pirated CDs to be seized during the drive, which involves payment of close to 15 million baht (S$628,000) in rewards to policemen.
Half of that amount will be paid by music companies.
Mr Shinawatra had announced the campaign two months ago when the bloody war on drugs was raging.
That controversial - but to some degree successful - crackdown on methamphetamines saw well over 1,000 people killed either in fratricidal gang battles or by police in alleged shootouts.
It proved to be popular with the public although Mr Thaksin had to face criticism from local and foreign human rights activists.
The war against piracy, which is likely to be far less violent, is a running battle and Thailand has already seen several crackdowns in this arena.
In an instance, about a year ago, two policemen who tried to close down stalls selling pirated CDs in Pantip Plaza on the capital's Petchaburi Road were beaten up by the stall owners.
Pirated audio CDs sell for 100 baht each while software CDs sell for 120 baht or more. Stalls usually operate under the nose of the police.
'I know copying like this is wrong, but I think Bill Gates is not hungry. I have a family to support,' one stall owner told journalists.
The huge business in pirated CDs has secured a longstanding place for the country on America's intellectual property rights watch-list.
The government hopes the crackdown will be successful enough to have Thailand's name dropped from that list.
Commerce Ministry adviser Oratai Thanajaro said random raids would be carried out at all hours, significantly increasing the risk factor for manufacturers and retailers of pirated CDs.Help support the forums by making a donation today. Thank you.
04-05-03, 12:05 PM #2kun-chris Guest
The problem with this tactic is that it lasts for three-months (or another time period) and then piracy of either MP3's, comptuer software, dvds, etc. get the chance to thrive again. I remember my visit to a thai computer mall in bangkok (i cannot remember the name unfortunatly) and saw so many pirated things!
It will take a very long and hard campain to show that the thai police are serious in wanting to stop piracy, for once the "crackdown" on piracy has stopped, piraters roam free once again. They should have monthly, unscheduled raids on such locations to prevent the thriving piracy market, so shops would not be aware of when to shut down or remain open.
04-05-03, 12:31 PM #3Paknam Web Staff
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In think the shopping mall you are thinking about is Panthip Plaza. I agree with you that it is hard to believe that anything will change. There has been police crackdowns before and then things go back to normal. A friend of mine went to buy some MP3 Cds yesterday (of course, I never buy myself). He said that most shops were closed. The ones that were opened had all of the shelves cleared and that they were only selling to people they recognized.
I would say they are more serious this time compared to the past. Look at what happened with the drug crackdown. Over 1000 people were killed. People are thinking twice about buying mp3 cds now (I mean drugs) as they could get shot.
05-05-03, 12:12 AM #4
05-05-03, 09:13 AM #5Forum Member
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I can see that a crackdown on piracy is needed as its rife in asia, especially Thailand. However I think a better solution would be to make software reasonably priced in the first place, I mean who (Thai or Farang working here) can really afford 20k for a genuine copy of Office 2000? Thats more than a years wages for some people, isnt Bill Gates rich enough as it is?
05-05-03, 09:58 AM #6Vali Guest
I don't think pirated CD's should be what the government is cracking down on... The drug war is so much more important... drugs are harmful to everyone. Whereas pirated CDs only hurt the rich music/entertainment/computer industries.
05-05-03, 03:12 PM #7thammachaht Guest
What i think is that some (not all) thai people are dishonest. It's not like the police haven't tried to do this in the past but usually the vendors just pay them to get off the hook. But maybe if the police get paid like more of a bounty ( i hate to call it that) by the music industry they won't take some of the bribes. That's just my personal opinion.
05-05-03, 05:08 PM #8
With the given economic condition worldwide, people will continue to patronize piracy unless those prices of the original thing will be competitive to the pirated ones.If you can't change things the way they are, Change your attitude.
05-05-03, 07:07 PM #9Dave UK GuestOriginally Posted by [b
05-05-03, 10:20 PM #10
So the crackdown on piracy is the newest trend now. It seems to me that the intention here is more about saving face rather than actually improving the situation.
Does anyone notice a trend here? Drugs, piracy... two of Thailand's "sore spots" with some other ones being prostitution and corruption. Intensive measures for three months, gee... good for the international headlines and for having a good national conscience.
After the three months are over, everything is back to status quo anyway, and the issues will fade thanks to the "out of sight, out of mind" attitude.
I just hope that prostitution will not be the third one on the list. Seeing the Thai government in action, (ie. like elephants in the Chinaware shop), I am convinced that another intrusion would do more harm than good. They would punish the victims and turn a blind eye to the offenders (they won't kill the goose that lays the golden egg, you see), but that's for another topic anyway.
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