Two women allege extortion by 'copyright agents'

Two women allege extortion by 'copyright agents'

Same people who fined 15-year-old girl, they say

Pitchaya Kaesungnoen, 19, left, and Meena Sapsarp, 25, talk to reporters in Nakhon Ratchasima after filing their extortion complaint with Muang police against people claiming to be copyright agents. (Photo by Prasit Tangprasert)
Pitchaya Kaesungnoen, 19, left, and Meena Sapsarp, 25, talk to reporters in Nakhon Ratchasima after filing their extortion complaint with Muang police against people claiming to be copyright agents. (Photo by Prasit Tangprasert)

NAKHON RATCHASIMA: Two women have told police they were extorted by the same people who tricked a teenage girl into making krathong floats featuring copyright cartoon characters, and then arrested and fined her.

Meanwhile, Justice Minister Somsak Thepsuthin has ordered local officials to provide assistance to the schoolgirl fined for copyright violation, and a TV report identified the  "agent" who led police to the young girl as a motorcycle driver.

Meena Sapsarp, 25, and Pitchaya Kaesungnoen, 19, on Wednesday filed their extortion allegation with police at Muang station on Wednesday.

Ms Meena said she was arrested on Oct 31 for making krathong baskets with famous cartoon characters.  She told police the man claiming to be a copyright agent had imposed a fine of 70,000 baht, but she did not have that much money. After negotiations, she paid a fine of 30,000 baht - which she had to borrow from a neighbour. 

Ms Pitchaya said she was caught on July 13 in Sung Noen district for selling pirated Yeti coolers. The officers demanded she pay a fine of 30,000 baht. After negotiations, she paid 10,000 baht.

The two women said those who led police to arrest them were the same copyright agents who arrested a 15-year-old girl in Muang district, a case which grabbed news headlines on Tuesday.

The girl, identified only as “Orn’’, was arrested and, after negotiations, fined 5,000 baht for making krathong baskets featuring cartoon characters that were ordered online as part of a police "sting".

She was making and selling flower-pattern floats for this weekend’s Krathong Festival, to raise money to help with her schooling.

However, one customer insisted on having cartoon characters on the floats. When she delivered 30 of them at a local department store last Friday it turned out the order was placed by copyright police.

The agent demanded she pay a fine of 50,000 baht. Her grandfather later negotiated the fine down to 5,000 baht. Media reported the girl priced her baskets at 17 baht apiece.

The girl's arrest sparked a public outcry.

T.A.C Consumer Plc, the representative of copyright holder San-X of Japan, later issued a statement saying the company had not assigned anyone to the operation that led to the arrest of the girl.

Wichian Chaisorn, director of the Nakhon Ratchasima justice office, on Tuesday night led officials to meet the girl and her parents at their house in tambon Nong Khai Nam of Muang district.

Mr Wichian said the justice minister expressed his concern over the legal action faced by the girl for copy right violation and ordered him to look into it and report it back to him.

The ministry has a centre to provide assistance and legal advice to people who  fight cases brought against them. The centre coordinates with lawyers to provide legal assistance to needy people, Mr Wichian said.

The girl's father, factory worker Thawatchai Polhaeng, said they were worried about her. She was still a schoolgirl.

He was also worried about the safety of his family.

If any agencies offered to help his family file a police complaint, he would cooperate fully. He did not want the people involved in the arrest of his daughter to extort money from more people, Mr Thawatchai said.

Amarin TV reported that the man who led police to arrest the 15-year-old girl is a  motorcycle taxi driver. 

TV reporters went to his house in Nakhon Ratchasima, but he was not there. 

Neighbours identified him only as "Nan". They said his wife sells luk chin meat balls.



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