Samsung and Coca-Cola recently cancelled their advertising contracts with Zing.vn, the online news, entertainment and social network of company VNG. Both Samsung and Coca-Cola cited concerns about Zing’s use of musical works without permission.

"Corporate users of illegal software can face criminal charges and severe legal penalties. In addition, copyright owners have the rights to use different measures to protect their interests, such as filing a lawsuit" - Vu Manh Chu, director of the Copyright Office

Zing.vn made no comment on the incident. A few days later, it signed an agreement with Universal Music Group on music copyrights. Under the deal, VNG will provide users in Vietnam with Universal Music records in the form of streaming and download with fees, as from November 1, 2012, from the whole system of Zing. Zing and 17 other websites started to charge VND1,000 (US5 cents) on a song downloaded.

According to the Recording Industry Association of Vietnam (RIAV), Vietnam has about 150 websites that allow online music downloads. But only 18 of these websites charging fees, so copyright infringement remains common.

Similarly, computer software piracy is still popular in the country though Vietnamese laws provide strict regulations against the violations, such as fines and lawsuits against the infringements. There are cases in which users of pirated software have ignored the implementation of decisions by government inspectors.

During a raid this September at Taiwanese-invested company Princemate Vietnam, the joint inspection team from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Ministry of Public Security found unlicenced computer software programmes used at the company.

Inspectors wrote that within five inspection days , the company had to contact software owners to buy legal software programmes for its business. The company was required to show the purchase contracts, receipts and relevant documents to the Inspectorate of the Ministry of Culture,

Sports and Tourism. Company representatives agreed to follow inspectors’ requirements, but have not taken such actions in the weeks that followed.

Vu Manh Chu, director of the Copyright Office of Vietnam under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said: “Corporate users of illegal software can face criminal charges and severe legal penalties. In addition, copyright owners have the rights to use different measures to protect their interests, such as filing a lawsuit.”

Vietnam Investment Review - November 13 2012