NAKHON RATCHASIMA: A 15-year-old girl was arrested and fined 5,000 baht after making krathong baskets featuring cartoon characters that were ordered by undercover copyright police.
The girl, who gave her name as "Orm", said at her house in tambon Nong Khai Nam in Muang district that her family was shocked by the police sting operation.
She had intended to produce flower-patterned floats for this weekend's Krathong Festival to raise some money to help with her schooling, and offered the service via Facebook.
She had many customers, none of whom ordered a particular pattern for the krathong basket. And then one customer specifically ordered cartoon characters on the floats. When she delivered them at a local department store last Friday it turned out the order was placed by copyright police, who were waiting for her.
"After receiving the order, I made krathong baskets from 8am to 1.30am the next day so that I could fill the order, only to be arrested," Orm said.
"Normally I do not make any basket with a copyrighted character. This customer stressed they wanted copyrighted characters. After being arrested I cried all night because I have never faced such legal action before.
"I want to know why they had to do this to me," the young teenager said.
She said she made her krathong from bread and wanted only to help out her family because her father was a factory worker and did not receive a high wage.
Her father, Thawatchai Polhaeng, said the undercover agent ordered 136 krathong baskets with famous cartoon characters and his daughter delivered 30 baskets. The agent frightened his daughter and imposed a fine of 50,000 baht.
Her grandfather was a former policeman and later managed to negotiate the fine down to 5,000 baht, he said.
Pol Col Kachen Setaputta, chief of Muang Nakhon Ratchasima police station, confirmed the incident occurred and that copyright agents and police were involved in the sting operation.
Media reported the girl priced her baskets at 17 baht apiece.
T.A.C Consumer Plc, a copyright representative of San-X in Japan, later issued a statement insisting the company had not assigned any party to carry out the sting operation, which led to the arrest of the teen.
T.A.C Consumer said it had assigned a lawyer to lookn into the case to ensure justice for all sides, according to the statement published on the company’s website yesterday.
San-X is a Japanese stationery company known for creating and marketing cute characters such as Tarepanda, Rilakkuma, Sumikko Gurashi, and Kogepan.
Lawyer Atchariya Ruangrattanaphong, president of the Help Crime Victim Club, posted on the club’s Facebook saying the Nakhon Ratchasima teen had been extorted and the club would help her.
The lawyer cited a ruling that it was illegitimate to lure someone into violating a copyright to get him or her prosecuted.
Wirasak Bunphloeng, vice-president of the Nakhon Ratchasima’s chamber of commerce, said although the chamber doesn’t support copyright violation, it would provide legal assistance for the teen and seek help from the Lawyers Council of Thailand.