The Supreme Court on Wednesday heard the case of a woman who was sentenced in 2015 to six months in jail for reproducing copyright-protected films without a permit.
Chang Pov, the 58-year-old owner of Nikon Trading Development, was not present during the trial. But in her not guilty plea, she claimed to have obtained a permit from the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts to reproduce films for commercial purposes.
Pov said she had copied and sold four locally produced films, but never received a warning from the ministry on the reproduction.
She also claimed to have obtained a permit from the Ministry of Commerce authorising her firm to use film reproduction materials for her business.
“I request the Supreme Court to please overturn the Appeals Court’s verdict. Please release me and drop all the charges,” she pleaded.
However, Supreme Court Presiding Judge Kong Srim said the four movies had been registered with the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts and so were copyright protected.
Pov’s reproduction, he said, was an infringement and prompted the Cambodian Movies Association to file a complaint to the Ministry of Interior.
Police raided Pov’s house in Tuol Kork district’s Phsar Depot III commune on November 20, 2014, and found, among other things, 1,660 plates of illegally copied CD, VCD, and DVD.
The case was then referred to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court. On January 23, 2015, Pov was sentenced to six months in prison and ordered to pay a fine of five million riel to the state budget and 20 million riel in compensation to Ouk Sokhunnaret, the Cambodian Movies Association representative.
The Appeals Court upheld the verdict on November 12, 2015.
Supreme Court Prosecutor Nao Monychort dismissed Pov’s plea as invalid. Under the law, he said, the defendant had only 30 days after a verdict was issued to file their appeal.
“The Appeals Court’s decision was just and in accordance with the law,” he told the presiding judges.
Sokhunnaret’s lawyer Oroeng Hokchhay echoed the prosecutor’s statement: “Please turn down Pov’s appeal and uphold the Appeals Court’s verdict,” he said.
The Supreme Court will deliver its verdict on September 18.