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Last Updated: Monday, 4 August, 2003, 11:10 GMT 12:10 UK
Indonesia targets media pirates

Rachel Harvey
BBC Jakarta correspondent

Person putting CD into CD-ROM
Music piracy erodes the government's coffers
Indonesia has responded to pressure from the World Trade Organization and introduced a new law aimed at clamping down on copyright piracy.

The move is long overdue.

Indonesia ranks third behind China and Vietnam in the global list of copyright offenders.

In Jakarta, upmarket shopping malls and streetside stalls often offer illegal copies of computer software, movies and the latest music releases

Legal DVD stores are often flanked by shops where the same releases cost a tenth of the original.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, sellers of the originals do not seem to do much business.


Pirated goods may be popular, but they are also illegal under international copyright law.

But while the new law may win favour abroad, persuading people at home may be much harder.

"We have to convince the people that it is very important, not only to protect the rights of the artists, but also it is important for the country, specifically for the tax collection of the government," Indonesia's justice minister Yusril Ihza Mahendra told the BBC.


Swelling the coffers of the central government is unlikely to be a powerful incentive for the pirates to stop.

But the penalties might make them think twice.

Copyright violators could face jail sentences of up to seven years or fines of more than $500,000.

The street vendors who sell the illegal merchandise, say the new law is unfair.

"Nobody can afford original DVDs," one vendor told the BBC.


The police say they cannot afford it either.

One police chief has been quoted in local newspapers complaining that he has neither time nor money to fund special operations to combat piracy.

There is supposed to be a special team to monitor the implementation of the new law, consisting of justice ministry officials, customs officers and lawyers as well as the police.

But it has not been formed yet.

In the meantime, sales of pirated DVDs are booming.

The message seems to be "stock up while you still can".

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