Teen boy fined for live-streaming movie from Vietnamese cinema

By Nguyen Khoa   December 28, 2017 | 02:36 am PT
Teen boy fined for live-streaming movie from Vietnamese cinema
A 19-year-old (L) is questioned by police in Vung Tau for live-streaming a movie on Facebook. Photo by VnExpress/Phong Huy
The 19-year-old was slapped with a $660 fine, but some people think it was a PR stunt.

Police in southern Vietnam fined a teenage boy VND15 million ($660) on Friday for live-streaming a movie on Facebook, a copyright violation that has also created a PR debate.

The 19-year-old, only identified as N.V.T., was accused of violating public distribution regulations, an offense that carries a fine of VND15-30 million.

T. was caught sharing live footage of "Co Ba Saigon" (The Tailor), a Vietnamese drama based in Saigon in 1969, from a cinema in the beach town of Vung Tau on November 13.

The production team took the violation seriously and demanded strict legal punishment. It said that the 30-minute stream attracted more than 5,000 views on a Facebook page and caused losses worth at least VND300 million ($13,200), given average ticket prices of VND60,000.

T. deleted the post quickly afterwards and sent an apology to the producer.

Bootleg recordings of movies are not uncommon in Vietnam. The same violation happened with “Jailbait”, a rom-com about a schoolgirl’s scandalous love story which hit local theaters in April and went on to become one of highest-grossing movies in Vietnam, surpassing “Guardians of the Galaxy” during its first weekend.

“Kong: Skull Island”, the biggest release of all time in Vietnam, was also live-streamed several days after it was released in March, prompting the Motion Picture Association of America to ask Vietnam’s information ministry to step in.

But “The Tailor” leak created an unusual uproar online after its producer and actor Ngo Thanh Van shared a heartfelt statement on Facebook, saying she felt “powerless” and “totally discouraged” by young audiences’ attitudes.

“This might be the last movie I produce,” said Van, one of the most popular actresses in Vietnam who appears in the Hollywood movies “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny” (2016) and “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”.

She initially received strong public support, with people calling for stiffer punishments for copyright infringements and asking cinemas to improve their recording tracking technology.

However, others were not convinced, saying that the whole incident could have been a publicity stunt as media coverage of the leak earned the movie more than 30 headlines.

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