The New Copyright Act

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A copyright grants the creator of a work (literary, artistic, musical, or other creative work) the sole right to use the work however he wants. That means that a copyright owner has control over the reproduction of his work, including control as to which person can or cannot use the work.

In 2015, several amendments of the Copyrights Act B.E. 2537 (1994) came into force. These changes were considered necessary concerning the outdated copyright laws in the Kingdom.

1. Different amendments

The amendments to the Copyright Act include two different bills that were passed into law on February 2015:

The amendment on the unlawful recording of movies in theatres took effect on the 6th of April 2015. For every unauthorized person, it is now forbidden to record movies in cinemas – even for personal use. A violation of this regulation may be punished by imprisonment for six months to four years, or a fine ranging from 100.000 THB to 800.000 THB.

On the other hand the amendment concerning intermediaries came into force on the 4th of August 2015. This amendment deals with the responsibility of intermediaries. The focus is on tackling internet plagiarism. Besides the intellectual properties on websites, also the intellectual properties created on the social networks shall be protected. That means that even a casual post of copyright content may be a violation of the law too. To avoid such kind of violation, the respective picture or the extended passage of text shall give credit to the original source.

2. Thai court system

If an owner of a copyrighted content or image finds out that a third party is using it without permission, he may take legal action under the Thai court system. In such a legal action it will be key that the copyright owner is able to provide the court with details of name and address of the service provider, the copyrighted work that is asserted to have been infringed upon and also the possible harm of the alleged violation.

In these cases, the court has the authority to block websites, award financial compensation for damages or seize income derived from the use of copyrighted content. Furthermore, the amendments of the Copyright Act provide that a court may order the service provider to remove the work. The court can set a deadline for refraining from such violations.

From now on all creative works like articles, literature, software, music, artwork, photographs and visual media enjoy special protection. Especially in the context of business activities, the users need to be careful. As opposed to personal users who only need to name the copyrights holder, commercial users are required to receive the copyright holder’s consent to use the image. Otherwise, the business activity constitutes a violation of the Copyright Act.

3. Penalties or fines

This distinction is also evident in the scope of the fines and penalties. If a personal internet user breaches the new law, the fine will be 10.000 THB to 100.000 THB for each violation. But if the breach was for commercial purposes, the fine could be jail for three months to two years and/or fines of 50.000 THB to 400.000 THB.

Attention should also be paid to the fact that persons who are webmasters, website owners or persons who provide content on the internet and allow readers or users to comment or post on their websites may be deemed service providers as well.

At the end of the day, neither personal nor commercial and casual users should overreact with regards to the new laws. Important is that users are careful with the contents of their posts and keep the copyrights of other persons in mind.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any inquiries regarding the above.

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