Copyright infringement may be subject to administrative or criminal sanctions, depending on severity of the infringement. Further, the copyright owner may also take a court action to claim a compensation for damages caused by the copyright infringement. Below is a summary of sanctions/remedies under administrative, criminal or civil proceedings pertaining to copyright infringement in Vietnam.
Previously, levels of monetary fines were subject to value of the pirated goods. However, this principle is removed and replaced by a notion as to calculate the monetary fines based on types of acts of violations as provided under the new Decree 131/2013/ND-CP which came into effect on 15 December 2013, which was then revised by Decree No. 28/2017/ND-CP, entry into force 05 May 2017.
Under Decree 131/2013/ND-CP, the highest fine level to be imposed on a copyright infringing organization is VND 500 million. For an individual copyright infringer the maximum fine is VND 250 million. However, the level of monetary fines imposed on the copyright infringement is quite low, even lower for the same copyright infringement than those provided under the previous legislation. For example, for “acts of infringing upon the right to reproduce works”, under Article 18, Decree 131/2013/ND-CP, the infringer will face a monetary fine of VND 30m – VND 70m (approx. US$ 1,300- 3,100). The infringer may be additionally requested to remove the infringing software out of the computer on which such infringing software is installed.
Criminal Code 2015, revised in 2017 criminalizes “commercial scale” acts of “copying of works, audio recordings and visual recordings” or “distributing the copies of work, audio or video recording.”
In case the monetary fine is not applied in the main criminal penalties, the infringer may be additionally subjected to a fine of from VND 100m to VND 300m and prohibited from operating in certain fields or raising capital for 01 - 03 years.
In case the copyright owner decides to file a civil lawsuit, subject to the copyright owner’s requests, the Vietnamese court shall apply the following civil remedies:
(i) compelling the termination of infringing acts;
(ii) compelling the public apology and rectification;
(iii) compelling the performance of civil obligations;
(iv) compelling the payment of damages
In the lawsuit petition, the copyright owner may request the Court in Vietnam to demand the infringer to pay a damage compensation. However, claiming damage in a civil lawsuit is quite challenging in Vietnam and, in practice, often not accepted by the court judges. Apart from a request for damage compensation, under Article 205.3 of Vietnam IP Law, the copyright owner has the right to request the court to compel the infringer that have committed acts of infringing upon industrial property rights to pay reasonable costs of hiring attorneys (attorney’s fee) to engage in the lawsuit.