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Samoan TV stations in hot water over program piracy

Overseas television program producers and distributors are formulating a Court action against TVOne and TV3 in Samoa over what they call “blatant and long-term program piracy”.In a news release, Transworld Distribution Inc based in Delaware, United States, said or the past month or so overseas distributors have been advised by Vaai, Hoglund & Tamati Law, Partner, Fotu Hoglund in relation to a “class action” against the offending stations and evidence is being collated so the cases may be brought to Court.Television New Zealand recently sent a “Cease and Desist” order to TV3 due to the unauthorized broadcasting of a program “Dynamo, Magician Impossible” which was pirated from TVNZ and broadcast on TV3 bearing a TVNZ “One” logo.Despite letters and telephone calls from BBC Worldwide TV3 continues to broadcast “Call the Midwife”, for which they do not hold a broadcast license. TV1 was recently taken to task for broadcasting “The Sound of Music”, which was described by the CEO as “due to an operator error”.The statement said that the TV rights in Samoa for all of these programs and films are owned by another station.TV3 was forced to cancel an advertised broadcast of the movie “Von Ryan’s Express” when legal action was threatened. This movie is also licensed to another Samoa TV station.It has been stated that “The owner of TV3, Hans Joachim Keil, Former Minister of Trade and Commerce, signed the international copyright law on behalf of Samoa”. This law prohibits the unauthorized broadcasting of television program content. The Samoa Copyright Act Sec. 27.Criminal sanctions (1) “Any infringement of a right protected under this Act, if committed willfully or by gross negligence and for profit-making purposes, shall be punished by a maximum fine of not exceeding $25,000 where the offence involves the breach of a copyright …or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or both.”A spokesman for the program owners group said “we are collecting a mountain of evidence and will be seeking infringement orders for each and every breach”.