Amendments to Article 83 and 93 of Taiwan Copyright Act passed at the Legislative Yuan
As reported in Taiwan IPO’s press release, Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan greenlighted the amendments to Article 87 and 93 of the Taiwan Copyright Act on April 16, 2019. According to the amendments, providers that offer set-top boxes or apps providing access to infringing websites will face a maximum two-year jail sentence or/and a fine up to TWD500,000. The amendments formulate and define new types of infringement as a result of the rise of some emerging technologies, aiming to curb malicious or severe online infringement.
In recent years, some set-top boxes or apps commercially available on the market provide users with convenient channels linking to websites on which unauthorized or pirated contents are available. Without duly authorized or licensed, the providers of such products or services have been earning extravagant profits by charging users monthly rental fees or selling set-top boxes outright, which has seriously prejudiced the rights and interests of the economic rights holders and duly-authorized OTT service providers and further affected the development of Taiwan’s film and television industry.
To actualize IP rights protection in Taiwan, the amendments add and define the following three kinds of acts that will constitute copyright infringement and lead to a maximum sentence of 2 years in prison or/and a fine up to TWD500,000, in addition to damages payment for civil liability:
1. Act of launching on Google Play, Apple Store, or other platforms the apps that assemble illegal source links to the websites providing unauthorized and pirated audio/visual contents for users’ downloading;
2. Act of providing directions, assistance, or an access path for downloading and using computer programs that contain unauthorized or pirated contents, rather than directly offering such computer programs. For example, a provider sells a set-top box that does not contain the above-mentioned programs but gives guidance or access paths for installing them.
3. Act of manufacturing, importing or selling equipment that contains the links to the above-mentioned programs. For example, the act of making, importing, or selling the set-top boxes installed with such apps. Also, the act of knowingly selling the set-top boxes that contain links to websites providing infringing contents will also be punishable in the future.
The amendments specifically target those dishonest infringing set-top and apps providers who mislead or incite consumers into buying set-top boxes compiling links to infringing websites by advertising their products or services free of monthly rental fees or free of fees for cable TV. Out of technological neutrality principle, the amendments will not affect the mobile phones, tablet PC, or legal OTT boxes not installed with such infringing apps. Besides, consumers who have bought such set-top boxes and apps that link to infringing contents would not be considered to have broken the laws, but the products or services they bought could be disconnected or cut off when providers of such products or services are investigated for offering illegal contents. Taiwan IPO also warns consumers against buying set-top boxes from unidentifiable source.
With these amendments being passed at the Legislative Yuan, it is hoped that infringement can be curbed and contained to promote the development of the cultural and creative industry and also the film and television industries in Taiwan. Taiwan IPO will propagate the details of the amendments to make them widely known to consumers. (April 2019)