by MARK RAO/ pic by ARIF KARTONO
MALAYSIA must strengthen the protection of intellectual property (IP) or risk being left further behind in driving innovations, and create deep and meaningful economic changes to the country.
The lack of securities will force innovators to shy away from investing in the country and take their creations abroad where they are better protected.
A recent study by Property Rights Alliance’s latest International Property Rights Index (IPRI) put Malaysia’s score at 4.9 in copyright protection from a maximum of 10 and 6.623 in the overall points.
The rankings put Malaysia as the seventh-highest in Asia and 32nd globally and second behind Singapore among South-East Asia nations. But weak copyright protection threatens future investments in innovation.
Author of the 2019 IPRI report Dr Sary Levy-Carciente (picture; left) said Malaysia still lacks in creating awareness on copyright and piracy and it impacts various industries from media and music to movies and software.
“If you want a society to create a dynamic virtual circle for innovation, you have to give that person who invests (his or her time) to create (a product), the possibility to get some reward,” she told The Malaysian Reserve recently.
She said individuals and organisations will move abroad to patent their IP if their properties are continuously undermined by copyright infringement and piracy.
It deprived the country of economic values and opportunities that come with an IP, she said.
“The more you respect the IP rights, the more you will get people to invest their time and effort to get the value. You are giving a push to the future economy,” she said.
IP is broadly defined as the creations of the mind, such as inventions and artistic works. It has become more relevant in today’s orange (or creative) economy and knowledge-based society.
She said the present situation is different compared to when land and capital were the source of wealth during the agricultural and industrial economy respectively.
“Protecting IP rights is the way so that we can have the highest level of economic mobilisation in a society. We have to promote, to foster and to make (IP protection) stronger,” she said.
But she did not dismiss that copyright infringements and piracy are a global threat.
Despite the availability of appropriate laws and policies, to combat the piracy menace requires social consciousness, she added.
Copyright infringement and piracy had dogged the country, robbing the local multimedia industry billions of ringgits in potential revenue.
Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo had said Malaysia’s multimedia industry lost RM1.05 billion in revenue to digital piracy in 2016, RM157 million tax loss for the government and 1,900 in job losses.
The ministry is mulling to place the copyright and piracy laws which currently fall under different authorities, under one government agency.
Recent news reports suggested that about 23% of Malaysian online consumers use such illegal devices like Android boxes to access pirated content.