Upcoming Olympics brings up piracy issues

China’s finally cracking down on piracy?

For the entertainment event it cares most about these days — the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing — yes.

Yuan Bin, director of marketing for the Games, said local authorities and the central government’s Administration for Commerce and Industry are taking swift measures “from a legal point of view” against those who make or sell counterfeit Olympic merchandise.

“It has been working very well to protect this market,” she said. The hard line seems to be working. With the Games still two years away, Olympics-related goods have generated 1 billion yuan ($125 million) in retail sales — half from a handful of mascots including fish, panda, antelope and swallow that each symbolize a boon like health or prosperity.

“The Chinese are so passionate about the Olympic Games. We have to educate them to only go to authorized shops for official merchandise,” Yuan said at a sports licensing summit, part of Licensing Intl. in Gotham. Talk was her first Stateside.

She said the Games have 50 main licensees, 30 in manufacturing and 20 in retail repping major stores in all of China’s biggest cities. Sponsors include Volkswagen, Adidas, Johnson & Johnson and UPS.

China’s going all out for the Games. Yuan said Beijing is building highways and hotels, expanding its light rail and subway system and tightening up on emissions. It’s already got 60,000-80,000 volunteers, largely from high schools and universities, lined up to work the Games.

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