VNG freed from $572,000 copyright infringement compensation

By Hai Duyen   October 16, 2023 | 02:52 am PT
VNG freed from $572,000 copyright infringement compensation
A poster of "The Story of Minglan," one of the films involved in a copyright case between VNG and TK - L. Photo courtesy of Vie
A HCMC court ruled Monday that Vietnamese tech unicorn VNG does not have to pay VND14.3 billion ($572,713) for copyright infringement as required by media company TK – L.

The HCMC People's Court accepted VNG’s appeal to change the sentencing of the court of first instance, saying the case of TK – L suing VNG to demand a VND14.3 billion compensation and a public apology is dismissed.

Prosecutors said there were insufficient conditions to determine that TK – L was given exclusive rights by its foreign partner, the Sea Yuen Limited company, to broadcast three films: "The Story of Minglan"; "Princess Silver"; and "Legend of the Phoenix". It means the contract of approval between Sea Yuen Limited and TK – L over the three films was not effective at the point of signing.

In 2018 and 2019, TK – L signed a contract with Sea Yuen Limited for the exclusive broadcasting of the three aforementioned films. However, TK – L could not prove that Sea Yuen Limited had the legal jurisdiction to grant such rights to TK – L over the films.

Moreover, Sea Yuen Limited was absent during the trial processes, so there was no way to prove whether the company has enough legal jurisdiction to let TK – L has exclusive rights over the three films in Vietnam.

The court said one issue with the matter is whether or not, at the point the agreement was signed, the films have been approved to be exported into Vietnam. According to the court, the agreement for the film "Princess Silver" was signed on May 20, 2019, but it was only approved by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism to be exported into Vietnam on May 30, 2019.

In the sentencing of the court of first instance, in 2020, TK – L signed contracts with foreign partners for exclusive rights over the three films on broadcasting services within Vietnamese territory. However, the media company later discovered that VNG utilized the three films by directly uploading them onto its website

TK – L said the act caused losses amounting to around VND170 billion, but only requested VNG VND45 billion as compensation, along with public apologies on newspapers. At a trial in September 2022, TK – L requested VNG to compensate it only VND14.3 billion, the amount of money used to gain exclusive rights over the three films.

Following other trials, the HCMC People’s Court on September 29, 2022 has forced VNG to compensate TK – L over VND14.3 billion, as well as the VND100 million fee for hiring lawyers and posting public apologies on newspapers.

VNG did not agree with the sentencing and decided to appeal the case.

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