Bureau to be operating by end of year

BEIJING — China is planning the East Asia region’s first copyright center in Shanghai, aimed at giving the local animation industry a boost by allowing toonmakers to register and protect their work.

The copyright bureau, expected to be up and running by the end of the year, will allow for the registration and exhibition of cartoons, the Xinhua news agency reported.

Given China’s widespread piracy, Xinhua said the facility could boost confidence in the industry, luring support from local and overseas investors.

“China, with a huge potential market in this field, needs copyright protection,” Lou Rongmin, deputy director of the Shanghai Copyright Bureau, told an aud at an animation exhibition in Shanghai.

Chinese toons are hot at the moment: DreamWorks Animation just announced the Chinese-influenced “Kung Fu Panda” as part of its calendar for 2008.

Toonmakers in Japan and South Korea are seeking to cooperate with the Shanghai Copyright Center and their Chinese counterparts to produce animated films.

Firms from the U.S., Germany and France also are keen to enter the Chinese market, although they are put off by rampant piracy.

However, “Few foreign funds are put into China’s cartoon industry because investors find it difficult to recoup what they will spend,” said Zhang Tianxiao, general manager of Shanghai Fantasia Animation.

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