Vietnam: Authorities commended for landmark online piracy conviction

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The People’s Court of Hanoi handed down Vietnam’s first-ever criminal sentence for online copyright infringement against the operator of the illegal IPTV subscription service, BestBuy IPTV; following criminal referrals by the Premier League and the MPA’s Alliance for Crativity and Entertainment (ACE)

BestBuy IPTV has been named for the past five years in Notorious Markets List, published annually by the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR).  In the 2023 report, issued in January 2024, BestBuyIPTV was said to offer more than 10,000 unauthorized channels fro 38 countries, and had more than 900,000 users, 12,000 resellers and 2,000 re-streamers globally. It used reverse proxy services to mask the location of its servers.

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Le Hai Nam, who ran the service out of Hanoi, pleaded guilty and has been sentenced to 30 months in jail (suspended) and was ordered to pay VND 100 million (about $4,000 USD). A total of more than VND 615 million ($24,000 USD) in illegal profit was confiscated and allocated to public funding. Nam has also paid VND 300 million (about $12,000 USD) in restitution as stated in the indictment.

“(The decision was) the result of a strong partnership between the Vietnamese authorities and local law enforcement, ACE and the Premier League,” said Premier League General Counsel Kevin Plumb. “The criminal conviction sets a significant precedent for future initiatives aimed at protecting intellectual property rights in Vietnam and beyond.”

In addition to this case, The Premier League and its licensee in Vietnam, K+, have worked together to block over 2,500 domains across websites in Vietnam and almost 18,000 pirate service listings have been removed from online auction sites aimed at fans across the region.

Further reading

Premier League and ACE commend Vietnam authorities for landmark conviction in online piracy case.  Press release. April 22, 2024. Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE)

39 piracy operations and 33 countries profiled in 2023 Notorious Markets report (contains link to the report). January 31, 2024. Piracy Monitor

Why it matters

This represents an important milestone in the fight against online piracy in the country and sets a precedent for future legal actions.

“The defendant has violated the provisions of the law which protect the copyright and related rights of the Motion Picture Association’s members and the English Premier League,” said Judge Le Hai Yen of the Hanoi People’s Court. “[Such crimes are] a danger to society and needed to be strictly enforced and prosecuted. [The case should] serve as a deterrent to others.”

This landmark case is a significant step forward in combating online piracy in Vietnam. It underscores the seriousness of the offense and sends a clear message that piracy will not be tolerated. It also demonstrates the importance of collaboration between the private and public sector to stamp out online copyright infringement.

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