The cabinet is scheduled to debate today a proposed new bill from the Intellectual Property (IP) Department. The proposal on the seemingly never-ending subject of IP piracy has several parts but one is unique. It would specifically ban the use of video cameras, including on smartphones, to record movies inside a cinema. Large fines and possible prison sentences would punish violators.
The cinema-copying ban is described by the IP Department as a primary purpose of the new bill. While there are excellent reasons to address the serious question of IP piracy, this one is curious. According to IP officials and to US government documents, it boils down to this. The filmmakers of Hollywood consider that low-quality smartphone copies of their released movies are cutting into their profits. They complained to the US government, which has complained to Thailand.
This trivialises the entire piracy issue. Banning the re-recording of first-run movies in Bangkok cinemas is hardly the top problem of the day. Yet the so-called "camera recording bill" took up a considerable amount of time of the IP Department and the Office of the Prosecution. Soon, assuming the cabinet passes it on today, it will be put to parliament.