Eleven years since its enactment, the Thailand Copyright Act was recently amended to address  the challenges of the digital age. The new law took effect on 04 August 2015.

The amendments prohibit the following acts:

  • The recordation of a movie in a cinema, regardless of whether or not it is for personal use. If found guilty, the offender will be charged with imprisonment for up to four years and a fine of up to Eight Hundred Thousand Baht (approximately US$24,000);
  • The distortion, alteration, modification of a performance that would cause damage to the reputation or dignity of a performer;
  • The manipulation of the Rights Management information (RMI), except when such action is permitted when made with an authorized official or educational institution;
  • The circumvention of the Technological Protection Measures (TPM) or offering of services that cause such circumvention.

Further, the new sections of the Copyright Act state that the following acts do not amount to copyright infringement:

  • The adaptation or reproduction under the First Sale Doctrine;
  • The replication of copyright works that are essential for a computer to function;
  • The reproduction or adaptation of copyrighted works where this is made for the benefit of disabled persons, provided it is for non-profit purposes.

With the recent amendments, the courts are empowered to award double the amount of damages if there is evidence that the copyrighted work was infringed with the intention of allowing the work to be accessed by the public. It is also clear that the copyright owner does not have ownership rights over the seized articles and the court has authority to destroy the infringing articles at the expense of the infringer.

The amended law also empowers the copyright owner to file an injunction against the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted content on the computer systems of Internet service providers. A “service provider” as defined in the Act, includes any person who provides access  to the Internet or any services that allow people to communicate with one another over a computer system and any person who provides computer information storage services.

The recent amendments are welcome and there is no doubt that Thailand has taken steps in the right direction by reinforcing its Copyright Act and arming up for battle in the digital world.