Legislative Yuan passed amendments to Articles 87 and 93 of the Copyright Act

the Copyright ActLegislative Yuan passed amendments to Articles 87 and 93 of the Copyright Act on April 16. They have entered into force on May 03, 2019.

The providers who use set-top boxes or applications that allow customers to link to infringing websites will be punished for 2 years in prison, or a fine up to NT$500,000 in the future. The new regulations can effectively curb malicious online infringement derived from the new technologies.

In recent years, some set-top boxes and APPs in the market have provided access to infringing websites for people to watch illegal audiovisual contents. By charging users monthly rental fees or selling set-top boxes, the providers gain exorbitant profits. It further affects the development of Taiwan’s audio-visual industries.

In order to put a strong emphasis on protecting the intellectual property rights in Taiwan, legislators proposed the draft amendments. Apart from the payment for civil damages, the providers will face a sentence of up to two years or a fine up to NT$500,000. The following three kinds of behavior will constitute copyright infringement:

1. Launching apps that compile links to websites containing illegal audiovisual contents on Google Play, Apple Store, or other platforms that allow people to download such applications;

2. Without directly providing the computer programs, providing a way to download and use computer programs that contain illegal audiovisual contents. For example, a provider sells a set-top box that does not contain the above-mentioned applications, but provides guidance on how to install them. Or, a link is provided in the set-top boxes for people to install and use.

3. Manufacturing, importing or selling equipment that contains the above-mentioned programs, such as manufacturing, importing or selling set-top boxes of said applications in the market. Selling set-top boxes for public to access to infringing contents will also break the law in the future.

The amendments focus only on ceasing such malicious set-top boxes or applications because the providers promote a monthly fee or a lifetime free of charge of cable TV which incites consumers to buy set-top boxes that incorporate many infringing content links. However, based on the principle of technology neutrality, devices such as mobile phones, tablets or legal OTT set-top boxes that generally do not have internal infringing content apps will not be affected. In addition, even if people who have purchased set-top boxes or apps that link to infringing contents are not considered to have broken the law, since the contents of set-top boxes and applications are illegal, the consumers could end up with their services being disconnected. The TIPO also reminds people not to buy a set-top box from unknown sources.

After the amendments of this law, it will help to curb infringement and promote the development of the creative industries in Taiwan. The TIPO will furthermore be actively involved in publicizing and education to let the public understand the contents of the amendments.

Delivered by: Sandy WANG (Ms.) / Senior Partner
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