Police will seek arrest warrants for "copyright agents" who ordered krathong floats adorned with copyrighted cartoon characters from a 15-year-old girl, and then had her arrested and fined for copyright infringement.
Pol Maj Gen Sujin Nitpanit, commander of Nakhon Ratchasima Provincial Police, said on Monday the investigation was almost complete and police would request court warrants by the end of this week.
Police were expanding the investigation after more than 40 vendors filed complaints against the same agents, alleging they also sought police action against them in a copyright "sting" to extort fines.
Police have not named the copyright agents.
The scam was exposed after a Nakhon Ratchasima teenager, identified only as “Orn”, was arrested on Nov 1 for making krathong featuring San-X cartoon characters and forced to pay a 5,000-baht fine for copyright infringement, sparking public anger.
Orn, who was making and selling patterned floats for Monday's Loy Krathong Festival to help pay for her education, said she received an online order for 136 floats, with the customer demanding she use cartoon characters even though she had never used them before.
When she delivered 30 of the floats to the customer a local department store on Nov 1, she was arrested by police, who told her the order was placed by a copyright agent.
At first, the “agent” demanded she pay a 50,000 baht fine, but Orn’s grandfather negotiated it down to 5,000 baht.
TAC Consumer Plc, the representative of Japanese copyright holder San-X cartoon, denied it had assigned anyone to work with police in copyright sting operations.
Police have also affirmed that the characters on the floats did not really resemble the copyright cartoon characters, so no violation occurred.