We do not hesitate to buy cheap CDs, DVDs or software that are pirated, as it has become common practice. But rampant violation of copyright has not only made the government lose millions in taxes but the original creators and publishers are also losing their economic and moral rights.
"One can find pirated CDs, Mp3 and DVDs on sale everywhere in the city," argues lawyer Baburam Aryal, adding that pirated software and unlimited downloads of songs and programmes is a violation of the rights of paternity and rights of integrity, apart from economic rights like royalty for the creative work.
It is not that there is no law in the land but it has become a common practice, he added. "The country also lacks a digital lab to prove violation of the Act."
The Copyright Act 2059 BS has taken the violation of Intellectual Property Right (IPR) as a criminal offence. Yet, the incidence of copyright violation has not come down, according to copyright registrar Bishu Kumar KC.
"The Copyright Registrar's office and Samriddhi Foundation are jointly working on to prepare an action plan to fight against infringement of copyright like plagiarism, piracy and unauthorised download as it cannot be controlled alone with the efforts of the government," he says, adding that people need to be made aware that violation of copyright is a crime.
However, SSP of Metropolitan Police Crime Division Devendra Subedi says that they are not getting complaints from either publishers or authors – the original creators – who are bearing the losses. "Since IPR comes under serious criminal offence, the police needs to receive complaints," he says, asking the publishers or original creators to come forward and complain. "Once the complaint is lodged, we will take action," he commits, citing examples of earlier cases when the police have successfully investigated and penalised Copyright Act violators.
Intellectual Property Right is not only key to protecting economic and moral rights of the creators but also important in increasing the country's competitive strength.
The more stronger the country is in protecting industrial property rights like patents, designs and trademarks, besides creative works like music and literature, the more a country can attract foreign direct investment.
The Global Competitiveness Index 2012 has listed innovation as one of the 12 pillars that measures a country's competitive strength. The 11 pillars — institution, infrastructure, macroeconomic environment, health and primary education, higher education and training, goods market efficiency, labour market efficiency, financial market development, technological readiness, market size, and business sophistication — have diminishing returns but the 12th pillar –– innovation –– is key and a country must invest sufficiently on research and development for innovation that can help strengthen the country's competitive strength.
It is no wonder that Nepal scored poorly in the 12th pillar, among all the indicators in the competitive index and lost its competitive strength, failing to attract foreign investment.