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25 September 2009

RIM renews call to ban illegal downloaders

France is going to disable the Internet accounts of citizens who download illegal copies of music, movies and PC games, and so should we, said the Recording Industry Association of Malaysia (RIM).

RIM wants the Malaysian Government to emulate France’s latest move to clamp down on Internet piracy.

News agency AFP reported that the French parliament has approved an Internet piracy bill which has a provision to ban illegal music, film and computer game downloaders from the Internet.

Repeat offenders can now be cut off from the Web in addition to facing existing but rarely applied legislation that stipulates a fine of up to 300,000 euros (RM1.5mil) or two-year jail term.

Also, AFP reported, Internet account holders found guilty of “negligence” for allowing a third party to pirate music or films using their web connection, would risk a 1,500-euro (RM7,500) fine and a month-long suspension.

RIM chief executive officer Tan Ngiap Foo said this matter was brought up to the Malaysian Government about three months ago.

“As our Government is aware of these developments, we are hopeful that it will adopt such a law,” he said.

Tan said the Government is in the midst of amending the Copyright Act 1987 to cover the Internet and hopes this can be finished by March.

“With the MSC Malaysia given such prominence there is no reason for our country not to adopt such a law. Copyright is paramount to the growth of the initiative,” he said.

MSC Malaysia was kicked off about 13 years ago to help build the nation’s knowledge economy. It involves hundreds of foreign and local companies that develop multimedia and communications products and services for home and international markets.

1-2-3 you’re out

RIM suggested a “three-strike warning” for illegal downloaders.

“First-time offenders could perhaps be sent a warning, advising them that it is illegal to download copies of pirated material,” Tan told In.Tech.

“If they persist, the next step could be to suspend their Internet accounts temporarily.”

After that, he said, recalcitrant downloaders could be permanently cut off from the Internet and taken to court. “This would be a stiff deterrent to others who pirate copyrighted material online,” he added.

The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, which is industry regulator, and the Motion Picture Association could not respond to calls for comment by press time due to the Hari Raya holiday season.

According to the AFP report, the bill is one of the toughest ever drafted in the global fight against the illegal downloading of films, music and computer games.

AFP also reported that in Sweden, a similar law has led to a sharp drop in illegal downloading although critics predict the effects will be shortlived and argue that it is an excessive breach of personal privacy.

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