We need strong legislation and action to protect intellectual property

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The unauthorized publication of intellectual properties such as translations, books, theses, and other projects online, allowing anyone to read, download, or profit from  selling books, audio, and video of other people’s legally protected work is not uncommon in Mongolia.

There are a lot of websites that give people illegal access to  movies, books, and other creative properties without the creators’ permission.

In 1993, the first law on intellectual property (IP) was adopted in Mongolia, amendments to the law were approved by Parliament in 2006, but we have had poor legislation to protect intellectual property rights for the past twenty years.

The Head of the General Authority of State Registration and Intellectual Property’s (GASRIP) Intellectual Property Rights Department, E.Myagmardorj, stated that GASRIP received over 400 complaints concerning the violation of intellectual property rights in 2016, and a large percentage of them concerned films.

She added that some websites were shut down after being found guilty of  breaking the law. In response to complaints received about bootlegged copies of books, GASRIP has confiscated books  to stop sales.

Writer B.Saran pointed out that almost all writers have fallen victim to this kind of theft, and said that writers file complaints with state authorities to protect their intellectual property, but the state’s authorities don’t take immediate measures to address violations and many writers give up their fight against bootleggers.

The writer said that she saw a bootlegged copy of her novel “Queen Sorghaghtani” at a book store and tried to investigate who produced the copy of her book and was successfully selling it in the retail market, and how to find where  copies of her book were being sold, but she was unsuccessful.

Since filing a complaint with GASRIP to investigate the theft, she has not received any news of findings so far. When she asked an employee in charge of intellectual property theft about progress on her complaint, the employee told her that there were no funds to investigate her claim. B.Saran concludes that the state’s intellectual property authority lacks the power to effectively act to carry out the law.

The problem is that many people don’t know that intellectual property is a valuable asset. Many people file lawsuits over intellectual property, but they don’t see results from litigation because laws and regulations to protect intellectual property are really murky in Mongolia.

How can we protect our intellectual property?

Groups bringing people together through common interests can have a great and direct impact on stopping intellectual property theft. Groups need to urge the state’s  intellectual property authority to carry out strong enforcement of intellectual property rights protections.

A group to protect the intellectual property of writers was formed a few years ago, and they signed a contract to collaborate with GASRIP. Unfortunately they are  not active in their efforts, so they  haven’t made a significant impact on  protecting the rights of writers.

We need more and more active groups working to protect the rights of Mongolia’s creative minds. Filmmakers, musicians, writers, researchers, and inventors are always facing the threat of intellectual property theft and are forming groups to deal with the challenges they face.

The groups have to contact consumers and businesses engaging with bootlegged products, and the groups’ members need to find better channels to officially sell their own creative property.

The primary responsibility of these groups is to create a business relationship with consumers and the groups’ members, and to monitor the implementation of IP laws. If the groups work at this, consumers would have access to higher quality products and creators would see  more benefits from their products.

Creating this fruitful and collective system is of great importance to dismantling intellectual property theft.

A group to protect the intellectual property of composers  was formed in the early 2000s, but they were ineffective. Since reforming in 2011, the group has worked very well to protect the IP of composers, and a number of clients are collaborating with the group by officially buying the rights to use music.

The group distributed nearly 100 million MNT to its members from profits collected for rights to music used legally in 2016. The group has established cooperation contracts with 16 international groups.

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