Copyright laws presented to parliament

Parliament today voted to proceed with a bill on copy right laws submitted by the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

MPs voted unanimously to send the bill to the economic affairs committee for review.

Introducing the draft legislation, MDP MP Mohamed Thoriq said the proposed copyright laws would create a legal framework to protect intellectual property in the Maldives and thereby “encourage creativity”.

Opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Abdulla Mausoom said while the party supported to the bill, it needed some amendments: ”Software protection was not fully provided in the bill,” he said.

A significant proportion of software used in the Maldives, including by government agencies, are pirated copies. Historically this has been due to the both the ready accessibility of unlicensed software and the comparatively high cost of legitimate licenses in the developed world. For example, a copy of a popular accountancy software package that costs Rf25 (US$2) at a shop in Male’ can run to several thousand US dollars if bought legitimately.

As the bill was connected to the productivity of the country, Mausoom added, it was very important to make it as comprehensive as possible.

Maldivian Democratic Party MDP MP Mohamed Mustafa concurred that the bill was important to the Maldives as ”copyright should be protected in the country.”

DRP MP Ahmed Nihan said that the bill was necessary but noted that ”there are amendments that should be brought to the bill.”

Nihan said that there were people who had become mid-level businessmen by selling the pirate copies of softwares and other products.

‘There are fake iPhones, blackberries and other types of mobile phone sold in the market,” he said. ”This business of fake models and products should be prevented.”