Cambodia has produced memorable music throughout its history. But now, it is time for the country’s artists to capitalize on their talent.
To solidify Cambodia’s legacy in music with copyright laws and Intellectual Property (IP) policies, the Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Fine Arts and Culture will hold a tribute concert to the legendary “Golden Voice” of Cambodia Sinn Sisamouth on November 14 at Koh Pich.
Expecting over 3,000 people to attend the event, all tickets can be bought for 20,000 riel, 40,000 riel or 60,000 riel at all Smart Axiata venues.
This concert will be the first event audited by a third party in an effort to show transparency in government charity fundraising. PricewaterhouseCoopers will audit the event for the government. Ticket sales with sponsored packages and pre sales have already been sold for an estimated $175,000.
Fifteen of Cambodia’s biggest singers have volunteered their time for the fundraising concert, which will help raise money for Sinn Sisamouth’s family, the Sinn Sisamouth Association, the sister of singer Ros Sereysothea, the preservation of Cambodian classics, a retirement fund for aging musicians living in poverty after the Khmer Rouge, and the Kantha Bopha and Preah Ang Duong Hospitals.
The feature musicians are Sinn Sethakol, Drakkar Band, Dy Saveth, Master Kong Nay, Him Sivorn, Eang Sithul, Meng Keo Pichenda, Sos Mach, Ouk Narim, Ek Side, Chhorm Chorpum, Nay Platin, Roth Makara, Kim Sokunthea, and Laura Mam.
Protecting Cambodian Artists
Under-Secretary of State in the Ministry of Commerce Koy Sodany recalls when the Minister of Commerce, Sun Chanthol, went to visit the now-deceased singer’s family at their home. Although Sinn Sisamouth was considered a legend during Cambodia’s musical renaissance in the 50s and 60s, his family never received any profits from his songs.
Appalled that his musical idol’s family was living in the squalor of a small wooden flat, Mr. Sun was determined to make sure that his hero’s good name would continue to live on in the memories of Cambodians. He wanted to make sure a name like Sinn Sisamouth got the respect it deserved.
“One of our main issues is to raise funds for the family,” Ms. Koy said. “That’s why the minister [Sun Chanthol] wants to create an event to help support the family in appreciation of Sinn Sisamouth.”
To make sure that the next generation of Cambodian talents are protected and to pay respect to the country’s art world rather than see it suffer in poverty, the Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Fine Arts and Culture hope the concert will provide an opportunity to spread news of IP laws and information to prospective artists.
Changing the Mindset
Although the IP laws in Cambodia have been in place since 2003, copyright laws in Cambodia are still relatively unknown by most artists, Ms. Koy said. “The main process is for everyone to know more about the IP laws – not only about the trademark, but about copyright as well,” she said. Ms. Koy hopes the concert will change many widely-held beliefs about IP rights.
“This is a good opportunity for us to share our knowledge and to promote the IP laws in Cambodia,” Ms. Koy stated. Any original music or written work can be protected by submitting an application with documented proof to the Ministry of Fine Arts and Culture, she added.
Enforcement of copyright laws will also be addressed. “We are trying to create a measure, beat by beat, with an article which stipulates punishment of the law,” said Ms. Koy with a nod, adding that the owner of the original material has the right to sue anyone who infringes on their work.
There are two ownership rights for IP laws, according to Ms. Koy.
“If the owner of the IP passes away, they would still have a copyright over the next 50 years which relatives can claim,” Ms. Koy stated. “It is an economic right.”
Sinn Sisamouth’s family can only claim royalties from the 73 songs protected under IP laws for another 10 years in accordance with the law. Mr. Sisamouth died during the Khmer Rouge’s rule of Cambodia.
“The other one is the moral right, which is recognized by the public that the author who has ownership can decide what and how the their work can be used.”
Although the royalty fees are between the owners and those who wish to use their content, the Ministry of Fine Arts and Culture is set to act as a go between and investigate any claims of IP infringement.
This event will be filmed as a cultural event and then broadcast in December and January on CTN, MYTV and TVK. For more information, please go to copyrightkh.org.