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Copyright Agents in Northeastern Thailand Face Arrest for Extortion

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The scam was exposed after a 15 year-old girl, identified only as “Orn”,  was arrested on Nov 1, she made krathongs featuring San-X cartoon characters and was forced to pay a 5,000-baht fine for copyright infringement, sparking public anger.

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Police in northeastern Thailand are seeking arrest warrants for “copyright agents” who ordered krathongs adorned with copyrighted cartoon characters from a 15-year-old girl. And then had her arrested and fined for copyright infringement.

Pol Maj Gen Sujin Nitpanit, commander of Nakhon Ratchasima Provincial Police, said on Monday the investigation was almost complete. Police would request court warrants by the end of this week.

He said Police were expanding the investigation after more than 40 vendors filed complaints against copyright agents. Alleging they also sought police action against them in a copyright “sting” to extort fines.

Police have not named the copyright agents.

The scam was exposed after a 15 year-old girl, identified only as “Orn”,  was arrested on Nov 1. She made krathongs featuring San-X cartoon characters and was forced to pay a 5,000-baht fine for copyright infringement, sparking public anger.

Orn, who was making and selling patterned floats for Loy Krathong Festival to help pay for her education. She said she received an online order for 136 floats. Saying the customer(Copyright Agents) demanded she use cartoon characters. Even though she had never used them before.

When she delivered 30 of the floats to the customer a local department store on Nov 1, and was arrested. She was told her the order was placed by a copyright agent.

At first, the “agent” demanded she pay a 50,000 baht fine, but Orn’s grandfather negotiated it down to 5,000 baht.

TAC Consumer Plc, the representative of Japanese copyright holder San-X cartoon, denied it had assigned anyone to work with police in copyright sting operations.

Police have also affirmed that the characters on the floats did not really resemble the copyright cartoon characters. No violation occurred Pol Maj Gen Sujin Nitpanit told the Bangkok Post.