Govt Sets Its Sights on Illicit Online Music Downloads

The Jakarta Globe

On the heels of its war against pornographic Web sites, the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology has a new target: Web sites that permit the illegal downloading of pirated music.

Ministry spokesman Gatot Dewa Broto said the government would block the sites, particularly those containing Indonesian music. On Wednesday, he launched a six-month campaign to raise awareness in the fight against a practice that the state says costs it Rp 12 trillion ($1.4 billion) a year.

“The figure is the estimated sum of digital music sold online without the permission of the copyright owner,” he said.

“It is harming the music industry. The six-month campaign aims to get as many recommendations as possible from citizens because we don’t want to make any mistakes.

“Aside from that, this is a sensitive issue and we don’t want people to think that we’re preventing them from accessing cheap entertainment products.”

Gatot said the government had established a group comprised of musicians to help in the campaign against illegal downloads.

The ministry is working with internet service providers, which were involved in blocking porn sites, to implement the campaign. The blocking will be based on the Web address, or URL.

“Once the introductory phase is complete, we are going to raise public awareness by explaining the legal implications of the p r ogram and what the consequences are for actions that violates the regulation,” Gatot said.

The program is based on the controversial Electronic Transaction and Information (ITE) law, specifically Article 25, which protects electronic information, electronic documents, and intellectual property. The campaign also is based on the 2002 Copyright Law.

Gatot said the campaign received support from the Indonesian music industry, which was harmed by the illegal market.

Veteran musician Samsudin Hardjakusumah, better known as Sam Bimbo, applauded the government’s move and described it as a “Lebaran gift” for the industry.

“We at Bimbo have composed more than 800 songs but we continue to suffer losses because if music piracy,” the 69-year-old told the Antara news agency.

“Those who work harder should earn more,” he said. “But because of piracy, those who earn more aren’t those who actually work harder.”

The Communication and Information Technology Minister Tifatul Sembiring launched the campaign at a ceremony on Wednesday attended by composers and lawmakers.

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