Le Dong Hai Nguyen

M.S. Candidate in Foreign Service

The machinations behind Vietnam’s crackdown on online piracy

Le Dong Hai Nguyen | August 24, 2021

Vietnamese public security last week prosecuted Nguyen Tuan Tu, owner and operator of Phimmoi, the country’s largest pirate movie streaming site. The conviction marks perhaps the first time that Vietnam invoked Article 225 of the penal code, which criminalizes infringing upon “copyrights and relevant rights.”

Launched in 2012, this illegal free-to-watch movie depository soon became one of the most popular websites in Vietnam, ranking in the country’s top ten most popular websites with over 100 million monthly visits at its peak. The site was so well-known that it even has its own entry on Wikipedia.

For years, Phimmoi was given free rein despite repeated calls from film studios and distributors both domestically and abroad to shut it down. Some have even gone so far as to suggest the pirate site was “backed” by someone at the top level of the government.