With the enactment of the new Cinema Law 2022, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MOCST) is developing a draft decree guiding the Cinema Law (“Draft Decree“). After a one-month public consultation period, the MOCST made substantial updates to the Draft Decree and submitted the latest version (“Version 4“) to the Ministry of Justice for appraisal. The content of Version 4 reflects the majority of the comments and recommendations suggested by industry stakeholders, evidencing how effective and influential policy advocacy can be.
Compared to the public version of the Draft Decree, Version 4 introduces the following notable amendments:
- Conditions for self-classifying films in cyberspace
Among other changes, the requirement that obliges offshore entities to establish an economic organization or enter into a business cooperation contract has been removed. Accordingly, only the following conditions will apply:
- Having a film classification board or technical software or other mechanisms to classify films according to Vietnam’s regulations on film classification and being responsible for the film classification results
- Having a plan to amend and update film classification results upon request of the MOCST (the Cinema Department). The administrative tool must assist in the classification of films according to each criterion and flexibly display [the classification results] immediately after the film classifications are updated
- Having a technical plan and process for temporarily ceasing and removing films at the request of the MOCST (the Cinema Department). After receiving a request to remove a film, the operator must execute the removal process on the administrative tool.
Film disseminators only have to describe these conditions to the MOCST (the Cinema Department) when applying for film self-classification in cyberspace.
Notwithstanding the necessary changes made, certain newly introduced terms (e.g., administrative tool; operator) are left undefined, making some requirements relatively incomprehensible.
Suppose that a film disseminator is permitted to self-classify films in cyberspace. If its film classification results are incompatible with that of the Cinema Department during a post-inspection of films disseminated in cyberspace, the following provisions will apply:
- The film disseminator must amend and update the film classification results at the request of the Cinema Department.
- The film disseminator will be considered as failing to satisfy the conditions for film self-classification if the film classification results are incompatible with that of the Cinema Department more than four times in a year (for films of type P, T18, T16, T13) or two times in a year (for films of type C). The film disseminator must then request that the MOCST or an agency authorized by the MOCST classify its films.
- After three months, the film disseminator must send an explanatory report when fully satisfying the conditions for film self-classification.
- Parental control
Version 4 has clarified examples of the necessary technical measures that online film disseminators must implement to guarantee parents/legal guardians can control and limit children’s access to films:
- There is a mechanism for multi-user accounts, including an account reserved for the child, in which accounts must have password protection, a confirmation mechanism when switching between accounts, and a mechanism to report the viewing history and behavior of the child’s account to the account holder
- When accessing films labeled not-for-children, there will be a message showing an age confirmation
- Other measures of a similar nature
- Handling of users’ complaints
The 48-hour time limit to handle users’ complaints only applies to complaints that are specifically and clearly justified and accompanied by the users’ contact details.
- Cinematographic Development Assistance Fund (“Film Fund”)
Due to strong opposition from businesses, the MOCST is proposing to remove the Film Fund provision from the Draft Decree and suggesting that the financial source of the Film Fund be carefully considered and regulated in a separate decree.
Having said that, the Film Fund has yet to be removed from the Draft Decree, and Version 4 introduces the following amendments:
- The subscription fee for films disseminated on a cross-border basis has been removed from the financial source of the Film Fund.
- The specific percent of deduction for each source has been removed.
- A new source has been added: revenue from enterprises and units doing business on the copyright of television and cinematographic films.
- Effective date
Articles concerning the dissemination of films in cyberspace (Articles 12-15), digital platforms and telecom network enterprises (Articles 16-17) are set to take effect on 1 January 2024. In other words, there is a one-year grace period for complying with these provisions.