Man jailed for pirating Mo Yan's works

Updated: 2013-04-16 07:42

By Cao Yin (China Daily)

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A man has been sentenced to six months in jail and fined 2,000 yuan ($320) after being convicted of illegally publishing copies of the works of Mo Yan, winner of last year's Nobel Prize in literature.

The National Office Against Pornographic and Illegal Publications said on Monday that Wan Yongshen published 3,000 illegal copies of Mo's books.

Haidian District People's Court in Beijing delivered its verdict on Wan on April 9.

The office said it had been involved in fighting 36 important copyright cases, including Wan's case, in 2012, in cooperation with the Ministry of Public Security, National Copyright Administration, the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate.

Meanwhile, the office disclosed 10 most common forms of copyright infringement cases that it fought in 2012. Among them, the most serious punishment handed out was an 11-year prison sentence in Tianjin, while the highest fine was 3.2 million yuan, for a copyright case in Harbin, Heilongjiang province.

The office said that in 2012, 5,331 copyright infringement cases had been solved nationwide and more than 40 million pirate items confiscated or destroyed.

Helped with larger numbers involved in fighting piracy between January and March, the number of cases has been gradually dropped, it said. The key target for 2013 will be piracy by online bookstores, e-commerce platforms and audition websites.

Jiang Ying, a judge specializing in intellectual property rights cases with Beijing No 1 Intermediate People's Court, said the disclosure of the 10 most typical cases will help to raise public awareness of the ongoing crackdown on piracy.

"The piracy of products such as books and videos still has a big market in our country, since these products are being sold at lower prices," she said.

"If demand is still there from buyers, violations will continue."

She added that fines are not very harsh, meaning that temptation remains for people to get involved in the piracy industry.

"More people are still becoming interested in making and selling pirated products," she added.

Liu Yinliang, an associate law professor in intellectual property rights at Peking University, echoed Jiang's observations on the piracy market, adding that writers themselves should also actively fight against piracy, to protect their copyrights.

"Relying on crackdowns by the authorities or the police is still far from enough. We need a better legal environment," he said, adding campaigns cannot solve the root of the problem.

Under current Chinese Criminal Law, those who infringe other people's intellectual property rights can be sentenced up to a maximum of seven years, "but if products being sold involve porn, the punishment will be more severe", he said.

"The penalties can be tough, but this problem is still serious."