Malaysia probes copyright fee demands

Malaysia probes copyright fee demands
Deputy Education Minister Dr Wee Ka Siong.

PUTRAJAYA - The Cabinet is moving in on mounting complaints against groups making their rounds to demand "copyright fees" from shops with TVs.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong said hundreds of complaints were received from associations representing coffeeshop owners, hairdressing outlets and even coffin makers.

He said the fee demanded was about RM800 (S$315) per year per agency "which can amount to more than the sum the owners paid for licences imposed by local authorities".

"I don't think that this is justified," he said. "It is rational for IP (intellectual property) owners to receive royalty if their product has been used by others for commercial gain.

"But they should not be collecting royalty from premises which are not using the IP for commercial purposes," Dr Wee told reporters after chairing his post-Cabinet meeting here yesterday.

The groups collecting the fees were agents for IP right owners such as songwriters, recording labels and artistes, he said, adding that the Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry had been tasked with investigating the issue.

At least four companies have apparently been collecting such payments.

The number of premise owners affected is said to have increased over the last two weeks.

On another issue, Dr Wee expressed regret over Tuesday's incident where a photographer was allegedly punched in the face by a family member of a MH17 victim.

"We hope that all (next-of-kin of) victims will control their emotions and understand that journalists have the responsibility to carry out their duties," he said.

"We should not resort to violence in expressing our anger and this incident will be handed over to the police for follow-up action," Dr Wee said.

"We also hope that journalists are wary of their (the family members') feelings during this period of grief."

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