A professional body is needed to protect property rights for films made in the country, the head of the Vietnam Cinematography Association has said.

"The country's film industry needs to have an organisation similar to the Vietnam Centre for Protection of Music Copyright, which came into being 10 years ago," People's Artist Dang Xuan Hai told a recent workshop on copyrights in the film industry in Hanoi.

The one-day workshop was organised by the association following Decree 131/2013/ND-CP on the punishment of administrative violations of copyright and related rights.

The decree, which took effect on December 14, regulates that any individual or organisation that infringes upon the copyright of movies and TV series will be fined 250 million VND (12,000 USD) and 500 million VND (24,000 USD), respectively.

According to Deputy General Director of the culture ministry's Copyright Office Pham Thi Kim Oanh, the lack of public awareness about copyright laws in Vietnam was the reason copyright violations are continuing to occur.

"Some individuals and organisations intentionally infringe, even though they understand the scope of their rights and duty," she said.

Agreeing with Oanh, People's Artist and noted director Dang Nhat Minh chipped in, saying: "None of the sectors in the arts and literature areas have to witness the open and widespread violations of copyrights as does the film industry."

"The music sector has found a way to protect their copyright, but the cinema sector hasn't," the director of "Dung dot" (Don't burn) said.

"It's a headache for the industry workers. We make films, but sometimes we don't even know where or when our films are screened. The current regulations seem to protect investors rather than the producers."

This has become such a serious issue that this workshop was the third held during the final months of the year.

A newly-released film is promptly uploaded illegally onto the internet for the public and those seeking profits through advertisements, reported the The Thao & Van Hoa (Sports & Culture) newspaper.

Further, as soon as an imported feature movies are screened in the cinemas, DVDs of the movie are immediately put on sale on open markets or by street vendors, the newspaper wrote.

"We pour a huge amount of money into importing movies. It's really dangerous if the violation continues," said Nguyen Van Nghiem, CEO from the Studio A Film Co.

"Meanwhile, many local filmmakers have to mortgage their vehicles and homes to make films. If their works are reproduced, they would feel heart-broken."

According to high-technology company CNC, Vietnam recorded 33 million internet users, while about 14 million users watched online videos in 2012.

"We lose hundreds of billion of dong each year in music, cinema and television – too high as compared to 40 billion VND (1.9 million USD) we earned from copyright payments in music last year," CNC representative Dao Viet Dung said.

Therefore, Oanh from the culture ministry's Copyright Office stressed the newly-created document was meant to stop the piracy, creating a legal corridor for the protection of copyright in the cinema industry through specific regulations and punitive tools.-VNA