Vietnam joins WIPO Copyright Treaty
In a new effort to further integrate into the global economy, Vietnam officially became the 111th member of the WIPO Copyright Treaty (“WCT”) on November 17, 2021. Accordingly, the provisions of the WCT shall take effect in Vietnam as of February 17, 2022, giving new hope to international copyright owners to improve their position in the fight against rampant copyright infringement in the digital environment in Vietnam.
Under the umbrella of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, the WCT expressly mentioned two subject matters to be protected by copyright, namely computer programs and compilations of data (or “databases”). Concerning rights granted to copyright holders, in addition to those recognized by the Berne Convention, the WCT also grant copyright holders: the right of distribution; the right of rental and the right of communication to the public.
Protection of computer programs and data compilation
Although computer program and compilation of data are protected under the current Law on Intellectual Property (adopted in 2005 and amended in 2009), enforcement of such types of copyright remains very difficult in Vietnam. Until present, no litigation cases involving database copyright has been reported in Vietnam. The few litigation cases relating to software copyright brought to the courts or other competent authorities in recent years do not seem to lead to a satisfying definitive resolution in favor of copyright holders.
The IP Law provides only a general definition of what are computer program and compilation data (Article 22). Due to the lack of knowledge and experience on how to protect such special subject matters in practice, the courts and other competent authorities are usually reluctant to take rapid decision, seeking alternative solutions or dragging on litigation process.
Rights conferred to copyright owners
Similarly, the IP Law of Vietnam grants copyright holders the right of distribution; the right of rental and the right of communication to the public (Article 20 on economic rights), however, due to the lack of literature on these issues, the understanding of each of the above rights remains quite limited. In practice, they are rarely claimed as such by copyright holders.
With accession to the WCT, Vietnam is now obliged to effectively enforce copyright against infringement on digital platforms and internet. International copyright holders with strong experience of copyright enforcement abroad are also expected to be more active in taking actions against infringement of their copyright in Vietnam, hopefully contributing to improve the actual situation.