China spins piracy issue

Says U.S. should increase legal distribution

HONG KONG — A day after the U.S. trade representative said China, India and Thailand were on its Priority Watch List of countries where intellectual-property piracy is rampant, the Chinese fired back, saying U.S. companies are not doing enough to spread legal distribution of movies in the country.

Wang Bin, secretary general of the Copyright Union of Internet Society of China, was quoted Tuesday in the official China Daily newspaper as saying that thousands of Hollywood movies produced by the U.S. majors were authorized in China with the help of the MPA. However, no agencies are in charge of authorizing Chinese online broadcasters to play films made by smaller studios and independent moviemakers.

Wang, who said his org — one of China’s most prominent intellectual property rights orgs — has approached the U.S. Embassy in Beijing for help, added, “Copyright holders are also to blame if they don’t help in authorization.”

The Internet Society said many of the country’s booming movie Web sites have tried to obtain legal copies of movies from independents and small studios. But they have failed to secure necessary authorization.

“The United States is a market economy, and copyright is held by individuals and companies,” Mike Ellis, Asia-Pacific director of the MPA, told Daily Variety. “The situation in China, where a single state organ controls the entire film industry, is obviously different.”

Meanwhile, the Motion Picture Assn. launched Operation Tripod, its latest antipiracy enforcement initiative in the Asia-Pacific region.

Tripod will particularly focus on illegal camcording of newly released titles in cinemas. During the past 12 months, 20 instances of camcording have been reported or forensically matched to cinemas in the Asia-Pacific region.

“Worldwide, camcorded copies comprise around 90% of early release pirate discs,” Ellis said. “We are determined to prevent its spread.”

Tripod sweeps will be conducted in Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand until June 30.

(Arthur Jones in Shanghai contributed to this report.)

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