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Pirated music widely available in Vietnam

By Hoang Nguyen   September 24, 2019 | 01:28 am PT
Pirated music widely available in Vietnam
USBs and hard drives with audio and video recordings of thousands of songs are easily bought in Vietnam. Photo by Shutterstock/ AlexandrBognat.
Songs and music videos stored in USBs and external hard drives can be easily bought illegally in Vietnam.

This illegal business is in fact booming.

With the high demand for portable music that can be played anywhere, anytime, USBs and hard drives with audio and video recordings of thousands of songs are just a few Google clicks. It is easy to find websites, including e-commerce sites, auto accessories sites and Facebook pages selling them.

Tuan, 28, finds it very convenient to play music in his car, having bought a USB with stored music from a store.

"I’m very busy and don’t have time to download hundreds of songs. But this store does it for me. Just write down your order and you can have any song, any artist, old or new, in this little USB at a fair price."

Manh, 35, also bought a USB, but for his smart TV at home. His friend had introduced him to a Facebook page that sells all kinds of storage devices with music.

"When I opened that Facebook page, I saw many people ordering USBs, and there was great feedback, so I bought one for myself. It’s not expensive at all. Instead of music, I asked them to copy movies and videos so I could play them on my TV."

Tuan bought his USB from a store in Ba Dinh District, Hanoi. The seller is very enthusiastic in introducing his products to customers. They include USBs, memory cards and external hard drives. A 16GB USB contains up to 1,000 songs and videos, and costs VND125,000 ($5.4). The most expensive option is 128GB, which can carry 10,000 songs and costs VND1.1 million ($42.9).

Copyright infringement is worsening in Vietnam, because of high licensing fees and a lack of effective law enforcement, according to industry insiders.

Phan Vu Tuan, a lawyer and vice chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City Intellectual Property Association, said copying music into a storage device for commercial purposes without the artists’ permission is a violation of copyright and intellectual property.

They attract fines of VND10-35 million ($430-1,506) depending on the extent of violation.

When the infringement is serious enough to be deemed a crime, the punitive measures increase to fines of up to VND1 billion ($43,000).

"The fines are not small, but not big either when compared to the profits. They don’t have to pay any management costs to state agencies, taxes or royalties, so the profit margin is huge.

"To change this situation, we have to first raise awareness among people about the need to respect copyrights and related rights by spreading the message on the media."

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