IPD plans digital piracy crackdown

IPD plans digital piracy crackdown

Illegal streaming 'stifles growth, innovation'

Intellectual Property director-general Thosapone Dansuputra.
Intellectual Property director-general Thosapone Dansuputra.

The Intellectual Property Department (IPD) will crackdown on illicit streaming of entertainment content such as TV programmes and sports, as mainstream providers warn that pirate websites expose users to malware.

Thosapone Dansuputra, director-general of IPD, said the agency is working closely with other organisations and private firms, both Thai and foreign, in tackling online pirates. 

"The digital content industry is under threat from those that stream premium TV shows, sports and films illegally, particularly through illicit streaming devices (ISDs), which have expanded access to pirated content," he told reporters on Friday.

ISDs allow users to access hundreds of pirated TV channels and video-on-demand content for a low annual fee.   

The department has shut down more than 1,300 websites in connection with violations of intellectual property and seized assets worth about 100 million baht from suspects for examination, he said. More than 200 people had been arrested and charged.

"We're closely monitoring it. The digital economy is one of the government's key policies to drive competitiveness. Moreover, the digital content industry plays a big role in economic development," he said following a meeting on intellectual property violations in digital content.

Last year, the digital content market was valued at 26 billion baht, he added.

Chulathai Saligupta, director of sports programming at True Visions Group, said piracy remained a serious concern for digital content providers, with evolving technology such as apps on mobile phones and tablets making digital piracy difficult to combat. 

"If piracy continues unabated, the owners of copyrights may take legal action and suspend broadcasts, and viewers will not be able to access the content at all. If we understand and respect the providers we will not only prevent violations but raise the local industry's standard," he said.

Neil Gane, general manager of Asia Video Industry's Association's Coalition Against Piracy (CAP), said piracy of digital content does not only harm economic growth but also cripples the digital and creative economy. ISDs also expose users to malware risks.

"Most consumers who access pirated websites to avoid paying a service fee are not aware that they are exposed to more malware, some of which can compromise their computers."

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