Malaysia has decreed that all film producers require a license to shoot and produce film in the country, including material intended for broadcast on traditional channels and social media platforms.
Saifuddin Abdullah, the minister for communications and multimedia, said that film producers should inform the National Film Development Corporation (FINAS) at least seven days prior to filming by submitting a form.
“No one can participate in any film production, distribution or broadcast activities or any combination of these activities unless a licence is issued authorising the person to do so,” said Saifuddin quoting the FINAS Act in the Malaysian Parliament.
What does this mean?
- The ruling will affect social media users on platforms such as Instagram and TikTok, as the FINAS Act defines ’film’ as recordings on any material, including features and short films, short subject films, documentaries, trailers, and short films for advertisement, for viewing by members of the public.
- According to the guidelines for licence applications on the FINAS website, applicants have to be registered as owners of a private limited company with a paid-up capital of at least RM 50,000 (USD 11,728).
- Film producers are required to apply for a Film Production Licence and a Film Shooting Certificate, with no distinction made between the intended outcome for the content - including whether it is designed to be broadcast traditionally or uploaded to social media.
The minister’s statement has been slammed by opposition politicians and MPs, who noted that the government would have to take action against TikTok users and request Youtubers to apply for a licence.
He later clarified that social media platforms such as TikTok and YouTube did not exist when the Act was passed in 1981 and said the Act needed to be updated.
“I explained in a press conference in my 100-day report card on June 20 that the Ministry is assessing all the laws that come under it. We are open to suggestions to improve all these laws and not just the ones debated in Parliament to be relevant with the times,“ he said.