Intellectual Property Protection in Cambodia

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To mark World Intellectual Property (IP) Day on April 29 2021, the United States Embassy in Phnom Penh held an online webinar to discuss IP in the Kingdom of Cambodia.

Intellectual Property Protection in Cambodia
The United States Embassy in Phnom Penh held an online webinar to discuss IP in the Kingdom of Cambodia.

US Ambassador to Cambodia, W. Patrick Murphy, discussed the topic of IP with Cambodian artists and entrepreneurs Adda Angel, Laura Mam, YoKi Coco, and film distribution executive Simon Choo. The main points of discussion were IP rights and protections and their role in “creating economic growth and supporting artistic innovation.”

Laura Mam is the chief executive officer (CEO) of Baramey Productions, which represents a number of leading and popular Cambodian artists. This includes VannDa whose most recent song “Time To Rise” became a hit and was launched in collaboration with one of the leading telecommunications companies – Cellcard.

Mam said noted that intellectual property rights should revolve around technology. The Cambodian-American, herself a musician, said that content creation “takes place in the digital sphere and the enforcement of IP will be achieved through technology.”

Simon Choo distributes films in Cambodia through his Westec Media Ltd company. Choo made reference to how the nation has developed over the past decade – moving on from pirated DVDs – shops which were once were obviously selling them have mostly disappeared.

However legal disputes remain and Choo advised businesses and copyright owners to take all necessary measures. His suggestions included encrypting digital versions of movies to avoid having content pirated.

Social media platforms were also discussed especially in light of the recent changes of YouTube preventing the monetisation by content creators in Cambodia.

In addition Adda, a Cambodian singer said Spotify and iTunes removed content if it contained Khmer which needs to be addressed.

Cambodia has had an allegedly poor reputation of breaking IP in the past, especially with film and music; taking samples and copying songs and using them in local music while many films and series have been dubbed in Khmer. This is something the industry is also trying to address.

Although the Kingdom might not be quite ready, it could be an early adopter of new digital trends and services in SEA, making the use of NFT (non-fungible tokens), blockchain and other emerging tech.

The video discussion is available on the US Embassy Facebook page. The Embassy was due to hold a virtual franchise expo on May 5 2021 but it seems to have been removed from their FB events.

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