Thai hopes for piracy list upgrade
ECD officers boost efforts to protect e-books, entertainment and software
After more than a decade, Thailand may exit the US Trade Representative's Priority Watch List (PWL) and enter the Watch List (WL) category as a result of the country's decade-long effort to strengthen its intellectual property regime, says the Economic Crime Suppression Division.
The ECD will strengthen its commitment to stopping online piracy, including pirated e-books, broadcast content and software, through the new Computer Crime Act.
"The US Trade Representative will revise Thailand's status from PWL to WL to reflect the government's stronger intellectual property rights position in the past few years," said Krengsak Chitsaard, chief inquiry officer for Subdivision 4 of the ECD, which operates under the Royal Thai Police.
In 2018, the ECD will focus on online piracy that violates copyright law with regard to e-books, illegal football broadcasts, music and movies.
"We have a blacklist of at least 10,000 suspect websites," Pol Lt Krengsak said.
Some websites, however, are out of reach of the new law because they are hosted overseas.
The ECD will enforce the new amendment to the Computer Crime Act's Section 20 to strengthen its protection of intellectual property rights.
"Under the new computer crime law, victims can notify the police of suspicious websites," Pol Lt Krengsak said. "The police will then decide if there is sufficient evidence to investigate, and then seek approval from the Digital Economy and Society Ministry to ask the court to block the illegal sites in question."
By Dec 25, the ECD will submit its first case to the Central Intellectual Property and International Trade Court in order to request a court order to block illegal websites.
Consumers are accessing illegal software through traditional CDs less frequently than in the past, as software owners have started offering cheap online subscription services through which they can monitor software usage, Pol Lt Krengsak said.
ECD deputy commander Winai Wongbuppa said the police are educating companies on the risks of unlicensed software.
"We are speaking to the media and working with the Department of Intellectual Property and the Association of Thai Software Industry to promote the use of legal and licensed software at the workplace," Pol Col Winai said. "We expect to see the rate of unlicensed software use in Thailand fall from the 69% rate we saw in 2016."
Illegal software is still being used in corporate settings. From January to November 2017, the ECD raided 227 firms using illegal software on 3,326 computers worth a combined 430 million baht.
In 2016, the division raided 252 firms using illicit software on 2,780 computers, a haul worth a combined 479 million baht.
"The decrease is due to changes in cloud and subscription models," Pol Col Winai said. The raids were in Bangkok, Pathum Thani, Samut Prakan, Nonthaburi and Rayong.
The sector with the highest percentage of violators was design and construction, followed by manufacturing, wholesale retail and services.
Somporn Maneeratanakul, founder of Thai Software Enterprise Co and the Thailand committee of The Software Alliance, said the rise of cloud computing is driving down illegal software violations.
Mr Somporn said some of the raided firms are big corporations with up to 250 million baht in revenue. On average, each firm's violations cost 1.89 million baht, and the firms often use client server networks to mask illegal usage.