Malaysia – Dogs Tackle IP Crimes

Once perceived as a “haven” for piracy activities, Malaysia has responded to such a portrayal with a positive salvo to eliminating this negative outlook. With a view to attracting and safeguarding local and foreign investments in the country, the authorities have been resorting to various measures to eradicate this menace.

It is therefore not surprising that recently, the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs (MDTCA) “welcomed” a new “duo”, Lucky and Flo, to their team to bolster further their anti-piracy operations. These Labradors retrievers, hailing from Northern Ireland and currently on loan from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPA) have been specially trained to examine packages and containers and sniff out polycarbonate and other chemicals used in the manufacturing of optical discs, which are then checked by the officers to confirm whether the DVDs, VCDs or CDs contain legal copies of movies, music or software. The result: Nearly a million illegal discs have been sniffed out this month alone!

This “phenomenon” caused an outrage within the pirates’ circle, which responded by offering monetary rewards for the death of the dogs. Reacting to such threats, authorities have placed Lucky and Flo in an unknown, safe location. Such news would definitely not go down well with the pirates, as Lucky and Flo will be extending their stay in Malaysia for the next few months to help “nose out” more counterfeit syndicates!

To further combat this piracy menace, the Malaysian Government together MPA are also investigating operations of local websites that “hawk” pirated DVDs on the global market. This operation has been achieving its objective thus far: currently 22 sites have been tracked and closed down, whereas nine sites are on their “red alert radar screen”.

Tactics involved, include scanning parcels that are mailed out of the country which contained pirated DVDs that were purchased via pirate websites. “Entrapment” operations were also conducted against the pirated DVDs sellers where “trap purchasers” were set on the Internet (auction site) eBay to nab the perpetrators.

Such aggressive initiatives are in line with the objective of enhancing copyright protection in Malaysia, following their dismal position on the Intellectual Properties Rights (IPR) Watch List. The International Intellectual Property Alliance and the United States Trade Representative Office (USTR) have been continuously monitoring and gathering information on the level of piracy and counterfeiting and blacklist countries with a high rate of piracy and counterfeiting. In the year 2000, Malaysia was among the several countries that were on the Top Priority Watch List. Malaysia’s aggressive response in this regard resulted in their removal from the Watch List. This evidences Malaysia’s effectiveness in the international IP arena.

Although there is no registration procedure in Malaysia’s existing laws pertaining to copyright protection as copyright is a Statutory right, legitimate copyright owners can continue to undertake measures by executing statutory declarations for their original works, attested by a Commissioners of Oaths.

To further strengthen the effort to combat piracy, copyright owners have to demonstrate the initiative to execute their copyright protection and ensure that their work (in any forms such as CDs) are registered with MDTCA and given the hologram stickers, which will authenticate their goods as being legitimate. Co-operation from both the owner and enforcement agencies will help Malaysia, coupled with the invaluable assistance of Lucky and Flo towards a positive direction in combating piracy and copyright infringement on a large and effective scale.