China moves to take down copyright pirates

By Wang Yan (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-12-01 08:06
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China moves to take down copyright pirates

BEIJING - The country is set to fight copyright infringement with top-down and cross-ministry efforts, officials said on Tuesday.

The State Council, China's Cabinet, has launched a special campaign, which will last until March, to "investigate and deal with a batch of major cases of both copyright infringement and counterfeiting that have attracted attention both at home and abroad, and to expose the companies who violate copyright laws and regulations, in order to create strong pressure against illegal behavior," said Vice-Minister of Commerce Jiang Zengwei at Tuesday's press conference.

The State Council set up a national group of intellectual property on Oct 19, chaired by Vice-Premier Wang Qishan and directed by Jiang, and consisting of 26 member agencies.

Jiang said a coordinated enforcement mechanism will be established, laws and regulations improved and communication meetings regularized to hear appeals and suggestions from the business community.

"The government attaches great importance to copyright protection," said Yang Xueshan, vice-minister of industry and information technology, adding that 98 percent of computers were installed with copyright-protected operating system software in 2009, a rise of 10 percentage points from 2007.

Yan Xiaohong, deputy director of the General Administration of Press and Publication and the National Copyright Administration, said a series of projects will be finished by May to ensure no unauthorized software products are used by central government agencies. A similar project for provincial, city and county government agencies will be finished before the end of next October.

He said the use of legal software would also be promoted in enterprises.

"But ensuring legal software is used is not a job that can be completed within a short period like one or two years," he said.

Wang Qian, a professor with the Intellectual Property School at East China University of Political Science and Law, agreed and said that improving awareness of copyright protection in society is a long-term job.

"Such awareness is still at a low level. The public is liable to tolerate or even support pirated products, partly due to the low cost," Wang told China Daily on Tuesday.

He cited an example where netizens complained when China's major video websites stopped updating foreign films and TV programs following a notice on Nov 12 by the country's TV industry watchdog, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television.

Wang said high legal risks deter many people from piracy in developed countries, but laws and regulations in China have been far from enough.

Moreover, the high cost and low benefit of legal action have stopped many copyright holders from stepping into the courts to protect their rights.

"The compensation for software piracy in the country is OK, but compensation is less when it comes to music and films," he said.

Those who infringe copyrights are generally ordered to pay compensation for the right owners' loss rather than face a large fine, with the upper limit of damages being 500,000 yuan ($75,000).

"A song usually gets 1,000 to 2,000 yuan in compensation in court for being pirated," he said.

Data from the Ministry of Public Security show 1,624 copyright cases involving 1 billion yuan were cracked in 2009, with 2,649 suspects arrested.

Also last year, Customs authorities detained more than 65,000 batches of exported goods suspected of copyright infringement involving more than 280 million pieces of suspected goods worth more than 450 million yuan.

The industrial and commercial authorities dealt with 51,044 trademark infringement cases in 2009, with 10,461 related to foreign trademarks.

China Daily