Vietnam firm seeks to punish YouTube for copyright violation

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A scene from "Tao quan" 2014 imitates kindergarten teachers threatening to drown a child who refused to eat in a news video that sent national public to outrage

A company that says it owns exclusive rights to broadcasting the Lunar New Year’s entertainment shows wants Vietnamese authorities to punish YouTube and other websites for copyright infringements under the nation’s laws.

The Hanoi-based Hi-tech Security Investment and Development Company (CNC) has petitioned filed the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Ministry of Public Security, saying it has collected enough evidence to show YouTube and other websites have violated its copyrights on the “Gap nhau cuoi nam” (End of Year Gathering) show which was aired live on Lunar New Year’s Eve (January 30) this year.

Dao Viet Dung, a company representative, said some YouTube users used live streaming to spread the show on the Internet as it was aired.

The popular satire on national affairs and government performance is produced by Vietnam Television Film Center and broadcast on national TV channels every Lunar New Year’s Eve.

It was first launched in 2003 and is better known as “Tao quan” (Kitchen God). It is a traditional Vietnamese belief that the Kitchen God in each house leaves for heaven one week before the end of every lunar year to report on the house’s affairs to the Jade Emperor and returns on Lunar New Year’s Eve.

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Dung said YouTube and the company have together removed nearly 300 violating programs from the site and blocked many users’ accounts.

“However, YouTube’s intervention only dealt with the consequences, while we had requested that "Tao quan" is not to be spread in any way,” he said.

Dinh Bich Ngoc, a public relations official with the company, also said YouTube headquarters in the US have cooperated with the company. She said violating “Tao quan” videos have been removed and relevant users’ accounts blocked.

But the company had not received cooperation from POPs, YouTube’s copyright partner in Vietnam, in the first place, Ngoc said in a report carried by news website VnExpress.

“POPs even demanded VND20 million (US$984) to prevent the distribution of the videos on YouTube.”

But Hanh Nguyen, a representative of POPs, said they had only asked the company to provide documentation proving exclusive ownership of the program’s broadcasting rights, but the latter had failed to do so. 

The program has come under greater scrutiny of late. In January, the culture ministry ordered strict censorship to make sure it follows Party rules and government regulations, and that its content suits the country’s culture and traditions.

CNC wants 15 other smaller websites penalized for copyrights violation for “Gap nhau cuoi nam” as well as “Gala Cuoi” (Laughing Gala), which was aired on the second day of the Year of the Horse (February 1).

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