Sherab Lhamo

Nyema Zam, CEO of Samuh, said that in the past year and a half, over 50 cases of copyright infringement were filed, with movies being the primary target.

Most movies were leaked through distribution on Telegram groups, indicating a significant challenge in enforcing copyright laws in the country.

But what is intellectual property rights? How many of us know the repercussions of infringing on someone’s creative products?

Nyema said there is a need to revise Bhutan’s Intellectual Property Act to address current challenges.

Why Bhutan continues to see a sad story of creativity?

Copyright infringement is a criminal offence. In Bhutan it is a civil offence. The low penalties and lack of criminalisation discourage copyright holders from taking legal action.

A simple example: a Bhutanese songwriter has stolen a tune from a Bollywood film. Ask why and he or she would say it was the tune he or she had composed long ago!

Many Bhutanese singers, leave aside filmmakers, thievery has been rampant in the fledgling industries in the country.

What sets Intellectual Property apart is the respect for originality, experts say. In a sense it is invention, not innovation although some clever tweaking could pass in the game.


Impact, though?

Loss of originality. Intellectual Property Rights has been on the limelight for sometime  in Bhutan and significant progress has been made to recognise the origin and person behind the art.

This day, though, the dimension and scope of artistic growth is shifting fast. With it, the more, monetary incentives for content creation is shaking up the creative industry.

Nyema Zam said that in Bhutan copyright issues is a criminal offence only if it was proved that somebody was trying to make money out of it. “In Bhutan most of the time people are sharing it on Telegram groups, these people are not making money out of it. But they have cost loss to those copyright owners.”

There are technologies to prevent copyright violations. What matters is how enforcement of the right laws are implemented, said Nyema.

Bhutan’s intellectual property system is governed by two Acts passed in 2001 —the Copyright Act and the Industrial Property Act.

Yesterday, in Royal University of Bhutan in Thimphu, World Intellectual Property Day was celebrated.

During the event the Department of Media, Creative Industry and Intellectual Property (DoMCIIP), Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Employment launched Geographical Indication (GI) Logo.

GI are signs used for products with specific geographical origins, possessing qualities linked to that place. GIs are commonly used for agricultural products, food, wine, and handicrafts.

GIs ensure quality standards tied to specific regions, helping informed consumer choices. They preserve traditional production methods and cultural heritage, as seen in examples like Kishuthara.

An official of DoMCIIP said the department is preparing to submit GI rule to the Cabinet soon.

Along with GI, they also launched Collective Mark for the Craft Sector and Clusters called CRAFT BHUTAN.

The official shared that CRAFT BHUTAN signifies a certain level of quality, authenticity, origin or other characteristics common to the Arts and Craft Sector in Bhutan.

CRAFT BHUTAN Collective Mark will be used by the members of the Craft Market and 26 Craft Clusters around the country.

During the event the Minister of Industry, Commerce and Employment, Namgyal Dorji highlighted on the need to recognise innovation and creativity by emphasising the importance of Intellectual Property in realising the United Nations 17 SDGs and its 169 targets, which encompass numerous subject matters of Intellectual Property.