Fri, Jul 09, 2004 - Page 1 News List

IPR infringement law set for major change tomorrow

CLASSIC FILMS Long a staple of film buffs in Taiwan, pre-1965 films will no longer be exempt from copyright protection laws, and prices will climb

By Jessie Ho  /  STAFF REPORTER

Movie buffs are snapping up cheap DVDs and VCDs of classic Hollywood movies released before 1965, because as of tomorrow, the sale of reproductions of unauthorized versions of overseas films will be banned, in accordance with WTO rules.

Taiwan's first Copyright Law (著作權法) was announced in 1965, and therefore films released before that time were not protected by law.

Many companies have continued to reproduce these films and distribute them, without having to obtain the permission of the copyright holders.

However, WTO regulations require member countries to retroactively apply copyright protection for such media, including movies, music discs and comic books within two years of joining the world trade body.

REVISIONS

The government revised the Copyright Law to comply with the WTO's rules, and announced the amendment on July 10 last year, giving a one year grace period before the law would take effect.

Violators of the amendment will be sentenced to three years in prison, or fines of up to NT$750,000.

To take advantage of this last-minute opportunity, movie lovers have been snatching up low-priced duplicates of the films, making the products the hottest item in the market, said a cashier of Chien Le Record in Taipei's Kuanghwa Market (光華商場).

The record shop charges NT$39 apiece for DVDs, including such films as Psycho, The Bridge On The River Kwai, Gone with the Wind, Casablanca and other Oscar-winning hits.

"Half of our stocks are gone, and I believe the shelf will be emptied by Saturday," said the cashier.

"People don't want to spend 20 times the amount the money to buy the same products," the cashier said.

WIDE EFFECT

Ann Chien, a director at DVD manufacturer AV Book Corp, which sells 100 classic DVDs for NT$7,700, said the company usually receives about 100 orders on a normal day, but is now getting triple that amount of business as the deadline approaches.

The same shopping rush also hit online shopping sites. Online bookseller books.com.tw's "Oscar classics" film collections, which contain 10 DVDs each for NT$349 per set, have been sold out.

Meanwhile, PC Home Online's shopping site sells 100 DVDs for NT$2,999, and it has also seen huge orders these days, said Joyce Tzeng (曾淑華), a public relations associate manager for the company.

However, the owner of Hsing Chu, another store in Kuanghwa Market, said the shopping spree is unnecessary, as authorized products will not be as pricey as most people expect, as many legal DVDs only cost from NT$99 to NT$199.

"I would rather spend a bit more on quality products ... I get really pissed off when the picture of these poor-quality DVDs gets stuck every time," he said.

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