In view of the rise of new types of digital infringement, in order to prevent unscrupulous operators from providing convenient ways to help the publicenter websites for viewing illegal audio-visual content, which thereby impairs the legitimate rights and interests of the economic rights holders and affects the development of the content industry, the Legislative Yuan passed amendments to Articles 87 and 93 of the Copyright Act (the "Amendments") on April 16, which were promulgated per a presidential decree and came into effect in early May. The main points of the Amendments are as follows:
(I)Adding new types of infringement activities, including the provision of programs and equipment that provide links to infringing websites, etc.
Articles 22 to 29 of the Copyright Act clearly stipulate that the author of a work has the exclusive right to reproduce, publicly recite, publicly broadcast, publicly present, publicly perform, publicly transmit, publicly display, adapt or rent the work. Engaging in any of the foregoing acts without the authorization of the copyright owner is a copyright infringement. Besides, the following acts are deemed copyright infringing acts under the old Article 87 of the Copyright Act: (1) exploiting a work by means of harming the reputation of the author; (2) distributing articles with the knowledge that they infringe plate rights, or publicly displaying or possessing such articles with the intent of distribution; (3) importing any copies or plates reproduced without the authorization of the economic rights holder or the plate rights holder; (4) importing a copyrighted work or lawfully reproduced copies without the authorization of the economic rights holder; (5) exploiting, for business purposes, a copy of a computer program that infringes the economic rights in the computer program; (6) distributing, by any means other than transfer of ownership or rental, articles with the knowledge that they infringe economic rights, or publicly displaying or possessing articles infringing economic rights with the intent of distribution; and (7) intent to allow the public to publicly transmit or reproduce the works of another person through the Internet, without the consent of or a license from that person.
However, the types of infringement activities mentioned above only involve direct infringement of works or reproduced works. Regarding the circumstances where the applications and equipment only provided referral opportunities to direct the public to the illegal audio-visual content websites where the actual perpetrators infringed copyrights, it was difficult to directly impose legal liability on the providers of such applications or equipment before the Amendments came into force.
In order to provide better protection for the economic right holders and to regulate the legal liability of such program and equipment providers, Article 87, Paragraph 1, Subparagraph 8 was added under the Amendments to include three new types of copyright infringement:
(1) providing the public with a computer program that provides links to internet addresses that are collecting works infringing copyrights; for example, launching an application, which collects illegal audio-visual internet links, on the internet stores (e.g. Google play, Apple store.)
(2) guiding, assisting or pre-setting the path to use the computer program mentioned in (1) above; for example, providing a piece of equipment or material, which guides and assists the public to install the above-mentioned computer program.
(3) manufacturing, importing or selling equipment or materials equipped with the computer program mentioned in (1) above; for example, manufacturing, importing or selling a set-top box equipped with the above-mentioned computer program.
(II)Adding criminal liability
In order to effectively curb the provision of the above-mentioned illegal programs and equipment, criminal liability was added under the Amendments. According to Article 93, Paragraph 1, Subparagraph 4 of the Copyright Act, aforesaid infringement activities are criminally punishable by imprisonment or detention of up to two years, or in lieu thereof or in addition thereto, a fine of up to NT$500,000.