Thailand’s Copyright Law – What do the changes mean for your company?

Thailand’s latest amendments to its copyright law took effect on 4 August. The changes mainly relate to the country’s digital economy policy and are an attempt to ease the pressure of being on the US’s Priority Watch List. The changes focus on social media content and photo sharing, with the punishment for copyright violations being fines of Baht 10,000 – 400,000 and/or jail terms of three months to two years.

There are now certain do’s and don’ts that Thai netizens will need to be more careful about, as will companies and corporates. Some of the don’ts cover deleting copyright credits by removing watermarks or names, adjusting other people’s photos or videos without permission, downloading movies and music from the internet and sharing them without permission, and embedding YouTube videos in personal blogs.

The law changes have created a big buzz in media with many opinion leaders saying this is a good time to be educating and encouraging Thai society about copyright. Thailand is among countries with the fastest growth of social media populations – Facebook users in Thailand as of April had grown by 35 per cent year-on-year, according to Zocial, Inc. Figures from the Digital Advertising Association of Thailand show that Facebook is still the most popular social media network with 30 million subscribers, followed by YouTube with 26.2 million, Twitter with 4.5 million and Instagram with 1.7 million.

Given these huge social-media populations, there’s naturally been a lot of discussion on the impact of the changes. For individuals the to-do lists include giving credit for content, photos and videos when sharing for personal use, and obtaining permission from copyright holders when using copyright content for commercial purposes.

For businesses and organizations, the changes offer a starting point for keeping up with the country’s moves towards a digital economy. To comply with the law, companies should review and revise if necessary their internal use of content, photos and videos to ensure they are not violating the law, as well as raising awareness about copyright issues among staff.

Awareness of the copyright law will also increase business opportunities. For example, GoPro, a maker of high-definition action cameras, recently launched GoPro Licensing, a premium-content licensing portal for global advertising brands and agencies to license premiere videos and images (gopro.com). This is in line with greater demand for copyrighted photos and videos for corporate and commercial use. It has also created a society of professional creators who earn money from selling content online to global buyers.

Clearly it’s time for companies to think about how they can benefit from products and content under copyright and gain a market advantage over their competitors. They should also be thinking about what policies they need to follow to operate within the new law while enhancing the reputation of their brand.