New amendments to the Taiwanese copyright legislation give more muscle to the music industry in its fight against online and optical-media piracy and offer greater protection to rights holders.

TAIPEI -- New amendments to the Taiwanese copyright legislation give more muscle to the music industry in its fight against online and optical-media piracy and offer greater protection to rights holders.

On Aug. 24 the legislature passed several bills that add new crimes to the books and give law-enforcement officials more power to search and seize property.

Crucial to the fight against optical-media piracy is the abolishment of infringement minimums. Under the old copyright law, piracy charges could not be pressed unless an offender had five discs or TW$30,000 ($950) worth of infringed optical-media products. Under the new legislation, that minimum has been scrapped.

Taiwan's music industry welcomes the new laws. "We're very happy to see the new copyright law passed. We're very happy that some of those important articles were included," says Robin Lee, secretary-general of IFPI Taiwan.

The new law also stipulates that it is illegal to tamper with encrypted CDs, DVDs and video and audio files from the Internet without authorization from rights holders. Violators could face up to a year in prison and/or a fine of TW$20,000-TW$250,000 ($587-$7,345). "Anyone who breaks a copyright-protection system will be breaking the law," Lee says.

The new legislation also provides customs officials with broader powers to search inbound and outbound cargo if they suspect it contains pirated goods.

The music industry's fight against peer-to-peer services received a major boost with the failure of a bill that had been proposed by file-sharing companies. That article proposed that Internet companies would not need copyright owners' permission to sell their works as long as a royalty is paid.

The new laws will go into effect after presidential assent, which is expected in early September.