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IPO Bill approved: Copyright violators to be nabbed

November 13, 2012

ISLAMABAD, Nov 13: Following the approval of Intellectual Property Organisation (IPO) of Pakistan Bill 2012 by the Senate, pirated CD/DVD traders and software sellers at Rainbow Centre in Karachi are likely to be the foremost target of law enforcement authorities for copyright violations.

The bill was unanimously approved in the Senate on Tuesday and would become a law soon after the presidential ascent. The bill would allow authorities to persecute those involved in selling pirated products or creations without formal property rights.

The IPO law is likely to help investors, manufacturers, musicians, singers and writers as selling ‘copies’ of their products would become illegal and liable for punishment.

It will also disallow copying the registered logos or trademarks, which is a common practice among the traditional item businesses including sweetmeats and nimco shops.

However, the worst sufferers of the IPO laws would be the urban middle class as a vast majority of consumers use pirated computer software. After IPO laws are firmly in place, CD/DVDs would cost almost three times their current price. Also selling cheap copies of text books will be very difficult as major brands would be conducting raids at book shops with the help of IPO officials and police.

The average price of pirated or copied course book is almost one third the price of the original brand.

However, an official of IPO-Pakistan said that, “strong copyright and property right laws would eventually encourage investors especially the international brands to enter the Pakistani markets, which would help improve the overall economic conditions.”

The Bill allows integration of the Trade Mark, Copyrights and Patent Laws under the IPO, as currently these three registries related to IPO are under the cabinet division.

It would strengthen copyright regulations in the country and would discourage manufacturing and marketing of fake and copied products.

IPO chairman Hameed ullah Jan Afridi told Dawn that the most important segment to benefit from strong IPO laws in country are the people in intellectual category including artists, singers and writers as their products are non-tangible items.“People copy their art works, music or writings and sell it in the market openly, without giving any royalty to the original composer,” he said. “But the change cannot be expected in the short term as people have developed the habit of not honouring other’s property rights.”

The bill highlights that IPO violators would be tried in specified tribunals. Cases would be heard on day to day basis and shall be disposed within 90 days.

Under the law, the federal government is authorised to establish as many tribunals as it considers necessary to exercise jurisdiction under the law.

The tribunal can be headed by a judge of a high court, district and session court judge or a lawyer who is qualified for appointment as a high court judge.

Appeals against the decision of the tribunal can be filed in the relevant high courts.

“The IPO Act would empower investors to adopt solid steps for improvement of service delivery system as they too can claim returns on their service delivery,” added Afridi.

The Bill allows IPO-Pakistan to establish its regional offices across the country so that effective implementation of the law is ensured.

The National Assembly has already passed the IPO Bill- 2012, last month and the Senate decided that the contents of the bill be reviewed by its relevant standing committee.