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Update February, 2015

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Under The Spotlight

Intellectual property is an issue around the world as the digital world expands

Peter N. Fowler, the Regional Intellectual Property Attache for South East Asia at the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, talked to the Chiang Mai Mail about the need for the copyright laws to be amended to provide legal protection for streaming services in Thailand.

By Shana Kongmun
The Chiang Mai Mail recently met with Peter Fowler, the Regional Intellectual Property Attache for South East Asia at the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok and talked about the challenges artists face in this digital age.

Even in the cases where digital content is free and open to use such as Wikimedia many people and organizations still fail to credit the photographer as required. Peter said, there are other kinds of systems where artists waive their reuiqrement for permission but, he noted, “Attribution is always required. People who get caught often say they don’t know but it is the law,” Peter went on to add, “Besides the fact they have a copyright it is a moral right to have your work attributed.”
He then said, so to emphasize the importance of this law, “No one can take someone else’s work and claim it as their own.”

Something many seem to miss in this day and age of ease of access to everything. He pointed out that this is one of the issues of the digital age. He added, “It is hard to get full compliance, but it shouldn’t be, especially with people who know better. Governments should act as role models in their use of copyright.”

Peter noted that it is not just art or photos but also trademarks, brands, packaging and logos that are copied, things that are clearly protected. There is this thinking among some, he noted, that just because something is on the internet makes it available but this is not true.

Artists have to balance their desire to have their works seen with their wish to not be robbed of their works.

“The internet is not a different universe from our own.” Mr. Fowler continued “It is an extension of the physical goods in the world.”

Mr. Fowler concluded by noting that the major issue Thailand currently faces is updating its copyright laws to be in line with modern technology, specifically by providing protection for streaming services like Hulu, Netflix and others. He noted that popular services Spotify and others are not available in Thailand because their services are not protected under Thai law. These companies are looking at providing services in nearby countries like Vietnam and the Philippines simply because these countries do provide this legal protection.

Peter added that it has been proven that when people have access to streaming services for music, movies and television that illegal downloading drops quite a lot. The vast majority of people just want to be able to do it easily and most people prefer legal sources because then they are assured it is not filled with viruses and is the real thing.

“By not moving forward,” Peter said, “they are providing disincentives to companies that wish to open in Thailand and increasing piracy by not making streaming services legally available.” He concluded by saying that he was unaware of any current legislation being put forward to protect streaming under copyright laws but hoped that the Intellectual Property Department of Thailand is considering it to propose to the government.

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Intellectual property is an issue around the world as the digital world expands



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