MWKA had the privilege of attending the recent KL Major held at Axiata Arena from 16 – 18 November 2018. Coined the largest international esports tournament in Malaysia, the KL Major was truly a spectacle to behold and proved to the world that Malaysia is capable of hosting world-class esports events.

 

Although there were some hiccups along the way, the organisers eGG Network were undeterred and quick to resolve all issues professionally. There was even an incident where some official merchandise sold at the event venue had allegedly used plagiarised designs created by a fan. eGG responded swiftly, took responsibility for the situation and attempted to contact the owner of that intellectual property.[1] Kudos to eGG Network for a job well done.

 

During the event, we noticed a number of stalls that were not affiliated to the tournament organiser nor the event venue had been set up outside Axiata Arena and were selling counterfeit merchandise. Such an occurrence is not uncommon in Malaysia. In fact, imitation football jerseys can easily be purchased from night markets and even some sportswear shops. However, the fact that the stalls were located outside the arena/stadium meant that it was a matter beyond the control of the tournament organisers. The question would then be this — is there any legal recourse against these unscrupulous sellers?

 

In Malaysia, copyright protection is governed by the Copyright Act 1987 (“the Act”). However, the Act is silent on the process of registering a copyright. This means that copyright protection is afforded automatically to the creator of the work when the original or derivative[2] work is created.[3] Therefore, any merchandise using copyrighted artwork will fall foul of the Act.

 

The protection afforded under the Act may also cover works created outside of Malaysia depending on the country from which the works were created. Malaysia is a signatory to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (“Berne Convention”) and hence, there is a reciprocal recognition and protection of copyrighted works by the countries that are signatories of the Berne Convention.[4] This effectively means that the use of any copyrighted works by any person other than the copyright owner without consent or prior authorisation may amount to an infringement under Act regardless of its origins.

 

In terms of enforcement, the copyright owner may initiate a civil suit against the infringer for damages or apply for an injunction.[5] Further to that, an infringement of copyright may be a criminal offence which includes making, distributing and even possession of any infringing copy.[6] In these circumstances, the responsibility of enforcement in a criminal offence pertaining to the infringement of copyright lies upon the Royal Malaysian Police or the Enforcement Division of the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs.

 

[1] https://www.reddit.com/r/DotA2/comments/9xts9n/kl_major_official_merchandise_use_my_friends_art/

[2] Section 8 Copyright Act 1987

[3] Section 10 Copyright Act 1987

[4] The list of nations that are a signatory to the Berne Convention can be found here: http://www.wipo.int/treaties/en/ShowResults.jsp?treaty_id=15

[5] Section 37 Copyright Act 1987.

[6] Section 41 Copyright Act 1987.

 

By Richard Wee, Lesley Lim & Bryan Boo

 

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