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Sep 27, 2023 / 21:32

Using AI to hunt down copyright infringing websites

Copyright infringements in the cultural industries are becoming increasingly sophisticated, requiring regulators to develop new technical measures to prevent them.

Vietnam ranks third in Southeast Asia quantitatively in terms of copyright infringement in the digital environment, but on a per capita basis, the violation rate in Vietnam currently leads the region. According to a study by Media Partners Asia, copyright infringement cost Vietnam's cultural industries $348 million in 2022.

According to the Strategy for Developing Vietnam's Cultural Industries to 2020, with a Vision to 2030, approved by the Prime Minister on August 9, 2016, the development of cultural industries is based on creativity, science and technology, and intellectual property rights. Enforcing copyright protection will help increase creative motivation and bring fairness to cultural industries.

 Music and sports copyrights are easily infringed on digital platforms. Photo: The Hanoi Times

Lawyer Pham Thanh Thuy, who has many years of experience in copyright law and is currently in charge of combating copyright infringement at K+ Television, believes that the forms of copyright infringement are becoming more complicated.

"Piracy of English Premier League football matches is rampant on the Internet. Out of 15.5 million views of this pirated stream, if 10% of this number become subscribers, the amount of money earned will be huge. This money in the hands of legal broadcasters would be reinvested in more valuable products, buying better sports programs and movies," Thuy said.

According to Thuy, about 10 years ago, domain names in Vietnam were easy to control, but today the owners of piracy websites are much smarter. They use foreign domain names and can easily change them if the site is blocked in the country.

As a result, copyright infringing websites that broadcast movies, music, and football programs are constantly moving to new addresses that are very difficult for the authorities to control.

Pham Hoang Hai, Director of the Digital Content Copyright Center, Department of Broadcasting and Electronic Information (Ministry of Information and Communications), agreed with the above opinion.

He said that from August 2022 to August 2023, nearly 1,000 websites illegally broadcasting football matches were blocked, but the authority's management tools are not flexible enough to block new domain names, which is a shortcoming that needs to be addressed.

Lawyer Pham Thanh Thuy suggested that regulators could use IP blocking tools (Dynamic Site Blocking), which is currently in effect in the UK.

IP addresses provide the identity of devices connected to the network, helping devices on the Internet to distinguish, recognize, and communicate with each other. As a result, when the IP address of a pirate site is blocked for the first time, ISPs can proactively block additional domain names without having to repeat administrative procedures.

Thuy said that in addition to existing measures such as administrative sanctions, authorities need to update new technical measures.

"If you want to sue a website owner in court, you need to identify the illegal profit of the pirate website and prove the damage to copyright holders, which is hard to do. Therefore, copyright lawsuits are often lengthy and ineffective," the lawyer said.

Nguyen Ngoc Han, general director of Thu Do Multimedia, suggested the application of artificial intelligence (AI) in copyright protection, affirming that it is a new and more comprehensive shield.

Han gave the example of the Sigma Active Observer (SAO) tool, which uses advanced artificial intelligence algorithms to detect and verify all data exchange activities during the content distribution process on the Internet.

As a result, SAO ensures that content is not violated by boundary violations and VPN (virtual private network) exploitation. SAO's defense mechanism helps prevent unauthorized access, minimizing revenue loss when content is compromised and freely distributed on the Internet.

In addition, SAO not only protects, but also monitors and alerts against threats, making content providers proactive.

 Dinh Tien Dung, Deputy Director of the Authority of Foreign Information Service, speaks at the seminar on copyright protection on September 26. Photo: Ngo Minh/The Hanoi Times

Dinh Tien Dung, deputy director of the Department of Foreign Information Service under the Ministry of Information and Communications, said Vietnamese authorities zealously protect copyrights of cultural industry products and comply with international commitments and conventions to which Vietnam is a party. Regulators are also making efforts to amend legal documents and relevant regulations.

Dung pointed out that online content management is handled by three agencies: the Ministry of Information and Communication, the Ministry of Science and Technology, and the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. As a result, it still takes a long time to deal with channels that violate copyright.

He also believed that the speed of blocking and removing copyright-infringing content needs to be further accelerated because if the infringing channel has millions of views, the handling is no longer effective.

Suggesting solutions, Dung said agencies must share data for more effective coordination. Sanctions also need to be more severe. The highest administrative fine ever is VND150 million (US$6,500), while a pirate website that streams football and organizes online football betting can make billions of dong in profits (VND1 billion is equivalent to US$44,000), he said.