Copyright raid rumors spread panic

PHUKET: Widespread rumors of raids by police specializing in copyright infringement have led to panic among Phuket’s Internet cafées and shops selling software, games and music CDs, with many on the beach road in Patong closing temporarily, preferring to lose business rather than risk being caught. The word on the street is that the police arrived from Bangkok on January 5, looking for pirated software or copies of legitimate software being used without licenses. Local police said they were unaware of any raids being carried out, but noted that the copyright police regularly visit the island unannounced. An Internet shop owner in Phuket Town said, “We heard that two or three days ago they raided [shops on the beach road in] Patong and Internet shops. “There are apparently three people down here; one is a policeman, and the other two are from a company that deals with software piracy. We haven’t been raided yet, and we are still open.” A source at another Internet cafeé, who asked not to be named, said that the two civilians were probably from the Bangkok branch of the Business Software Alliance (BSA), an organization set up by major software companies to tackle copyright infringement. The BSA, he explained, contacts the Crime Suppression Division (CSD) of the Royal Thai Police before targeting specific provinces. “The targets are computer shops, Internet cafées that have more than 10 computers, graphics shops and media publication companies,” he added. “It’s not worth opening the shop right now because if the BSA checks and finds pirated software we will have to pay a fine of at least 100,000 baht, and they might take all the computers, too.” Among the companies rumored to have been raided and closed was computer retailer AllforPC in Phuket Town. When the Gazette checked, however, a source at the company denied this was the case. “We weren’t raided,” she said. “We’re still wondering who started the rumor that we were arrested. We heard that the police are here in Phuket raiding, but we don’t know which shops exactly have been caught. “In Surat Thani there is a rumor that seven shops have been caught, but when we called to check, it turned out that none of them were. So, we’re not sure if it’s maybe just a rumor to try to scare us.” Korpong Intarit, who runs the Island Cyberia Internet Cafée in Karon, said, “Last night I was warned by my uncle who runs an Internet cafeé in town. He told me that his friend had called him to close the shop because the police were at his shop.” K. Korpong declined to name the shop involved. “After I received the phone call from my uncle I closed my shop and later on there was a group of police in front of it. When they saw that the shop was closed they went away,” he added. He said that for safety he is dumping his Microsoft Windows software and switching to Linux. “Today I’ll stay closed. I will open again after I finish installing the new software in all four computers – maybe tomorrow,” K Korpong said.

Phuket News
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