Please wait while the page is loading...


Vietnam’s first criminal sentence for online copyright infringement

23 May 2024

Vietnam’s first criminal sentence for online copyright infringement

The People’s Court of Hanoi handed down Vietnam’s first-ever criminal sentence for copyright infringement in the online space on April 23, 2024.

The court sentenced Le Hai Nam, the operator of piracy service BestBuy IPTV, to 30 months of suspended jail term for providing streams of pirated Premier League football matches, movie and TV content to viewers in and outside Vietnam through his subscription platform. The People’s Court of Hanoi also ordered Nam to pay D100 million (US$3,930) as a fine for his illegal act plus D300 million (US$11,770) in compensation. Additionally, D615 million (US$24,150) was confiscated from Nam as illegal profits accrued by BestBuy IPTV, which is extremely popular in the United States and Europe. 

BestBuy IPTV has been on the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) Notorious Markets List for counterfeit and pirated goods for the last five years.

According to Nguyen Van Vien, counsel at Frasers Law Company in Ho Chi Minh, enforcement of IP rights is the weakest link in Vietnam’s IP protection system, especially in the digital environment.  

“In these circumstances, the first criminal sentence for online copyright infringement in Vietnam handed down recently by the People’s Court of Hanoi erects a symbolic landmark in the enforcement of IP rights. This verdict demonstrates the political determination of the State to protect the rights and interests of the owners on an equal basis with the rights and interests of the public,” he said.

Vien explained that before the historic verdict, there had been some doubt that, with respect to IP enforcement, the state protects the rights and interests of the public rather than those of IP rights owners.

“Since this verdict is handed down, IP lawyers in Vietnam have very strong references to stop IP infringements and/or discourage tentative infringements,” said Vien.

This milestone in Vietnam’s judicial history was the result of collaborative efforts between Vietnamese authorities, law enforcement, the Premier League and the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment, a global coalition against digital piracy, which is rampant and spreading rapidly in Vietnam.

A report released by Media Partners Asia in 2022 ranked Vietnam in the pole position in terms of accessing and sharing pirated online videos on a per capita basis. Vietnam has also been on the USTR’s Special Report 301 Watch List for U.S. trading partners, notorious for counterfeiting and piracy for many years.

- Espie Angelica A. de Leon

Law firms