New copyright law will hurt small businesses, claim MPs

New copyrights legislation passed on Wednesday could potentially be harmful for small businesses in the country, MPs from both sides of the aisle cautioned at yesterday’s sitting of parliament.

Opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Dr Abdulla Mausoom argued that the new laws would pose challenges for small business who rely on “fake products”.

“The government should conduct broad awareness programmes to circulate information on the new law, it would be a huge loss for the small businessman,” he said. “But the bill is more like a prevention bill than a bill dedicated for punishments.”

Once ratified, anyone found guilty of violating the Copy Right Act could be fined between Rf50,000-Rf300,000 (US$3800-US$23,400) or sentenced for six months imprisonment or banishment.

“My greatest concern is that people might suffer the penalties without knowing about the Copy Right Act. Not being informed is not an excuse before the law,” Dr Mausoom said.

It was essential for the government to establish a culture of respecting the rule of law within the government, he added.

Speaking at the 47th session of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in September 2009, former Economic Development Minister Mohamed Rasheed announced that the Maldives intended to be in full compliance with international intellectual property (IP) obligations by December 2010.

At yesterday’s sitting, Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Mohamed Shifaz agreed with opposition MPs that the law could create complications for small businesses.

“Small businesses rely on the market of trading copied properties, either it is T-shirts, videos or songs,” Shifaz said. “After this law is enforced the trade of fake logo products would be prohibited.”

Shifaz said that the government intended to provide assistance for small businesses to adjust to the new legal framework.

“I personally think the amount of the fine is way too high, however, that is passed now, and now we are trying to figure out a solution,” he said. “It is also questionable whether the new Act can actually be enforced.”

However, Dr Mausoom argued that the Act could be enforced if owners of intellectual property seek protection under the new laws.

“It is their product and they should start taking legal action for losses and then there is the role of the government as well,” he said.

A number of small businesses in the Maldives rely heavily on the trade of pirated products, notably in the music and movie industries.

Pirated copies of video games and computer software are highly popular among Maldivian customers – even the cash-strapped government has been observed to regularly use illegitimate software.

However the lack of copyright legislation has led to reluctance among foreign investors to invest in a market with no legal protections.

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27 thoughts on “New copyright law will hurt small businesses, claim MPs”

  1. The cash strapped government should start looking for alternatives to high priced proprietary products. There are better alternatives.

    This is a notable step forward for the country.

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  2. The smallest of small businesses are songwriters and artists ... The bill is beneficial to them so they can continue to deliver the product small businesses that distribute what they produce will have the ability to continue to thrive. Why are the people that make the music everybody wants never part of the thought process?

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  3. Actually that's kinda true. one of the biggest pirated products vendors in Maldives (Formax) is gonna suffer a huge blow to their DVD and CD sales. But since they have diversified to hardware they probably won't go bankrupt or anything.They will probably manage to hang on.

    The people who should really be worried are those tiny movie, series vendors. you know where you give them a pen drive or something
    and they give you the whole series for 2.5 Rf. They are definitely going to go bankrupt. Its really sad when you think about all the money those poor guys invested to the hardware and all the time they spent downloading.

    But copy right laws are needed very badly in the Maldives. Lack of copy right laws in Maldives has completely destroyed the creativity of the people. This is especially seen in the media. The mainstream music industry of the country is grotesquely unoriginal and repetitive.Hopefully this will prompt an resurgence in creative and authentic Maldivian products.

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  4. wonder how many can afford to buy Corel Draw and Photoshop on its original price of $800-900 and follow the copy right rules. Even government offices in Maldives have pirate software.

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  5. If this means the death of poorly rehashed versions of bollywood songs that passes for 'entertainment' here, then I'm all for it.

    Yet, there's something inherently distasteful about the abuse of Intellectual Property by corporations that stifle competition.

    Copyright laws have created quite a deadlock in many areas of the software industry where I work.. with the big monopolies absolutely dominating the industry.

    I also hope that this means an end to local businesses that charge hefty prices for fake, vulnerable software - someone mentioned formax earlier.

    On the bright side, this should be an incentive for government and private offices to move towards Free and Open Source technologies.

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  6. Was that Bill Printed Using Perated Windows and Office ? ... What really are we protecting .. Most Dhivehi Songs are Hindi Tunes . .. Are we paying royalty for the Original Music Producers .. What About All DVD's available here for 30 bucks .... What about COmmercial Music which Bands are Performing at resorts ...

    Wake Up MP's .. Don't just act as Bunch of Clowns

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  7. This means, no more download from bittorrent? What's ISP's role on this?

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  8. I have had a brief look at the law, and it is pretty draconian. Some points that come to my mind.

    1. The copyright period is way too long. The current law states a period of 50 years since the death of the author, in the case of multi-author, 50 years from the death of the last-dying author.

    This is an overly long duration, something like 15 to 20 years is more reasonable in my opinion. Overly long, and restrictive copyright laws actually stifle creativity and innovation, rather than improve it. And it will be increased to 75 and to 100 years by lobbyists anyway in the new future.

    2. Punishable offense to use anti-DRM devices/software.

    In section 33 "Haggu thah himaayai kurumah beynunkuraa fannee vaseelaithakaai rights management informations ge hagguthah", it states in clause 33.(haa).1:
    "Fannee masakkatheh nuvatha aduge recording eh nuvatha broadcast kuraa echheh alun nu ufeddheygothah hedhumahtakai nuvatha efadha kameh control kurumahtakai vaseelathehge gothun beynun kurumah ufaddhaafaivaa evves echheh ge beynun nuhifey gothah hedhun nuvatha ekamah huras alhan beynunkuraa nuvatha kuraane faraathakah vikkumah nuvatha kuyyah dhinumah evves kahala echeh ufeddhun nuvatha efadha ehcheh raajje etherekurun"

    and in part 3 it states:
    "Huddha akaa nulaa electronic rights management information negun nuvatha badhalu kurun"

    The above two clauses actually makes it a punishable offense to use anti-DRM (digital rights management) software. In the law it states Electronic Rights managemet, which is still the same thing.

    The equivalent law in US is DMCA, which has come under immense criticism, and we are repeating that. Such measures actually make it illegal to use open source software to watch DVDs (since they bypass region protection, a primitive form of DRM), and other software that cracks modern DRMs.

    It gets more interesting, it actually makes it punishable the mere act of building such a thing, or raajje ah ethere kurun. Does that mean downloading such software will also be illegal? Downloading is also rajje ethere kuraning i guess.

    And that part
    "huras alhan beynunkuraa nuvatha kuraane faraathakah vikkumah " puts a big liability on the developer or seller. How is the seller/developer to know how it will be used by the end user? Does this mean selling or giving or creating torrent software is illegal? After all torrent is predominantly used for infringement. But should we penalize the developer for that? Isn't that even a more draconian thing?

    Those two are just tip of the ice berg. Good thing it doesn't cover patents!
    There are good reasons to oppose such draconian laws, rather than welcoming it with open arms.

    http://theekaaku.blogspot.com/2009/12/secret-anti-counterfeiting-trade.html

    http://theekaaku.blogspot.com/2009/05/copyright-debate.html

    http://theekaaku.blogspot.com/2009/03/copyleft-all-wrongs-reversed.html

    http://theekaaku.blogspot.com/2009/02/previously-patented-post.html

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  9. Uhhhh I think almost everybody in the Maldives uses pirated software, be it Windows to programs like Photoshop. Maldivians don't earn that much of an income to spend as much as they would spend on buying a pc to buy a software. Well, I really see this as NOT benefiting a majority of the people here. And like some others mentioned, even I can say with a 100% guarantee that the government too uses pirated software

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  10. “Small businesses rely on the market of trading copied properties, either it is T-shirts, videos or songs,” Shifaz said. “After this law is enforced the trade of fake logo products would be prohibited.”

    Isn't that the point though?

    THIS IS EXACTLY why there are no Maldivian clothing brands. Places like Pink Coral etc just couldn't run anymore cos the thieving immoral ****s on often just on the otherside of the road kept stealing their designs.

    It's also why our airwaves are polluted by that disgusting copy garbage.

    People opposing this are just helping to push back creativity.

    I'm not talking about the copyright of some software or music giant that doesn't even market themselves to us; I'm talking about the everyday Maldivian being able to do nothing about his creative output being sold for the profit of someone else.

    Shifaz says he's concerned about small business.

    Who owns most of these small business? Big businessmen.

    If anything this will protect small business, especially those dealing with crafts.

    Even now there are shops selling Dhivehi "authentic cultural" items that aren't even made in the Maldives.

    How is some guy on a tiny Island (getting proper sewage treatment only in time for the next election) going to compete with a factory in China?

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  11. Meekaaku: If protection of basic rights is 'draconian' and a conspiracy, why are some people trying to do Phds in this..

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  12. Well, the drug dealers rely on their income too and there are lots these guys and its a huge business.. so we just let them do it even though its wrong? What kind of a stupid argument is this?

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  13. Copyleft, my friends! There is existence beyond Windows & Mac. Think OPEN.

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  14. Everyone will loose on this except very few like Microsoft. The MPs who passed this bill had in mind only the Dhivehisthan film makers. But because of their (Molywood
    ) lobbying everyone will suffer.
    We are too small a country to brag about intellectual rights. There are more important things in our country than protecting other country's intellectual rights. As for our own intellectual rights... we don't seem to have much of those. A few dhivehi films (devoid of much intellectual themes...) and a few music 'albums' with indefinite taste. We have a long way to go to benefit from intellectual rights in the country...

    A sad day for the country..

    Hope the president doesn't ratify it...
    But he too will ratify it because if he doesn't he can't risk sullying his image ...

    Advise to all fellow workers and country folks: Switch to Ubuntu. Discard your windows..

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  15. You cannot have the cake and it eat as well. Looking positively, this have the potential of introducing more environmentally friendly businesses. Look at the amount of waste produced just by fake CDs. Perhaps it is time Maldivians should learn to respect other people's intelect as well. CD shops could start lending original DVDs and movies like they do in developed countries. so more positives than negatives from this bill...

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  16. Small biz may hurt bcos of copy right law. But same time small biz must look at more real biz than pirated products. If Copy right law is not effective think about the damage on a more bigger picture, like foreign trade relations FTA etc including foreign aid.

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  17. @Aunt Miralda on Fri, 8th Oct 2010 3:52 PM

    Good thing people are still researching that!

    You do realize that copyright is a tradeoff? It is an time limited exclusive monopoly given by the society to the producer as an incentive to produce creative works. The question is how long should a copyright last, and it is a very valid question. Because, overly long durations stifle competition and restricts creative output, the very opposite of the intended goal.

    Banning anti-DRM software is actually infringes on the rights of the users who have legitimately obtained the copyrighted works.

    Suppose you buy a book, is it ok for the copyright holder to restrict you to read it only in Asia region, but for DVDs its OK? Here we are talking of legitimately obtained ones, not pirated ones. But as current proposals such as DMCA/ACTA to come into effect, things will be even more restricted.
    Can they prevent me from ripping a CD that I have legally bought? DRM sytesm try to prevent that.

    I have no problem with DRMs, after all the publisher can and will try to protect what they want. But making it illegal to make/sell/lease/download device/software that breaks DRM is taking it too far, and infringes on the rights of those who make legitimate use of it.

    Its like penalizing the producers of knives, because murderers use them to kill people.

    Such thinking has already gone too far. If i am not mistaken, some countries already charge extra taxes on blank CDs! This money is fueled into where? the hollywood lobbyists.

    Copyrights are supposed to be designed to improve social welfare by releasing the works to public domain at some point in time, but if there are things that reduces that we need to take a second look.
    Its not a basic right in the likes of life & liberty.

    And don't start on patents, which is even worse.

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  18. the small business should be hurt, obviously,..they are the pirates

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  19. If you can't afford LEGAL copies of Windows, Photoshop etc, STOP using them! Start learning about Open Source and the superior FREE products that are available as alternatives.

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  20. Meekaaku: Protection of copyright is a basic economic necessity without which a society cannot encourage creativity. It has 100 times more advantages than disadvantages.

    There is 2 sides to everything. But in this case the positive side is far bigger and better. Also you seem to confuse patents and copyrights..

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  21. @Ahmed - Open Source alternatives are not superior to commercial software most of the time and are not as user friendly. Just because you use Ubuntu does not mean you have to force it upon others who use windows

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  22. A loosening up of customs duties on imports and reliance on other revenue streams are some things the government needs to do to ensure compliance.

    Or else, criminalization of an everyday activity will just help criminals in our society. IF the government enforces compliance through penalization, then black markets might spring up.

    Access to internet isn't as common in the Maldives as some of us like to loudly declare. Average incomes are not at the level that we can only afford "geniune" goods. Supply chains in the Maldives does not yet lend itself to the easy manufacture of clothing in the Maldives (no textile industry).

    CDs, DVDs and other digital media have to be made in neighboring Sri Lanka (although I guess an argument can be made for the possibility of such industries coming here if innovations in manufacturing can overcome the depressingly unfeasible economies of scale).

    I think what is essentially missing here is input from technocrats. Lawmakers cannot just will a law into being. If it is to be effective then there needs to be wider stakeholder engagement, the use of statistics and an appropriately defined timeframe. I would especially like to emphasize the lack of statistics in this country which makes us always speak of ifs, maybes and could bes. Science needs to be enhanced in this country in parallel with the enhancement of arts.

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  23. @Masry you have a point but why not Pay and use them?. If you can't afford it don't use it. If you can't pay for them go for alternatives. Simple as that.

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  24. this is a great loss....think about it guys, how well have you thought about this?

    the original software cost a fortune...if we are lucky we could buy one software per

    year...because most of the people live their life on a honest monthly income.

    the house rent, monthly groceries, school stuff for our children (extra curricular

    items), cable tv, internet, mobile bills, electricity bill, water bill, loans

    ect...how will we be able to huh??

    you guys have made sound arguments,i agree that there are advantages to this but there

    are also the disadvantages.Someone above mentioned the original software cost being

    800$-900$ - cant afford. then someone else mentioned if you cant afford dont buy -

    ignorant. another person mentioned about foreign investors - true.

    as you can see everyones arguments were correct !!! with this law we open new doors,

    with this law we also close the door to many talented passionate and creative young

    maldivians, how many of them do you think can afford it?

    the charges in this law is just B*** S***, i mean only they wont be a thing if we had

    the Mps salary. The Mps are in another word noobs, thinking that we can copy the laws

    of european countries. If thats the case then why not the whole damn law book of

    theirs, why copy part of it. I would say that these no good mps havent really thought

    about all the cons & pros of this bill, also some of the mps looked at this bill

    pretty carelessly.

    THE ONLY ANSWER FOR BOTH POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE THINKERS CAN ONLY BE, CHANGE OUR

    CURRENCY TO DOLLARS OR EURO THEN EVERYTHING WILL BE ALRIGHT AGAIN. Just my opinion

    because once again i say that everyone's argument is CORRECT!!!

    example:

    salary Maldivian Currency: MRF 5000

    Salary European Currency: $ 389.11 (wrong)

    Salary European Currency: $ 5000 (correct)

    now the originals softwares will be affordable..LET THE COUNTRY PROSPER INTO THE ERA

    OF ART & SCIENCE. ELSE BE STUCK IN THE PAST CAUSE TIME SEEMS TO FLY BY QUICKER EVERY

    SECOND.

    Almost forgot..ealier someone mentioned about formax, about formax i'd say they helped

    this little coummunity so far. So hats off to them. Formax was the only shop that sold

    all varities of helpful softwares. But now because of this law who will take the risk,

    who will we buy from if needed a software and most importantly will it be at a
    reasonable price?

    How will the computer science students benefit will the government be funding for their grade 10 projects? (Ms.office software...ect).

    JUST RECONSIDER!!!!!

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