China takes piracy steps

Gov't destroys over 47 million illegal items

With the Beijing Olympics a little more than three months away, everyone is focusing on China’s behavior, both past and present.

Hollywood is no different.

Chinese officials say they’re taking major proactive steps to prove to the entertainment biz and the world that it is serious about stopping piracy.

Chinese copyright officials in 31 provinces this week destroyed more than 47 million pornographic and illegal publications, including pirated DVDs.

China is home to some of the world’s worst offenders on intellectual property rights evasion, prompting the U.S. to formally complain to the World Trade Organization that the country is not doing enough to stop counterfeiting.

Last week, a group of senior Chinese intellectual property rights officials called for patience from the West.

“In merely 20-odd years it is impossible for China to establish IPR (intellectual property rights) protection awareness similar to that of Western countries,” said Yin Xintian, spokesman with the State Intellectual Property Office.

“As the country’s economy expands, so does the production scale of each product. Taking all the factors into consideration, it is natural that there will be some piracy,” Yin said.

There are fewer pirated DVDs circulating in China these days, though many people prefer to illegally download product or go to Internet cafés.

China’s Cabinet, known as the State Council, this month issued guidelines on a national IPR strategy at an executive meeting presided over by Premier Wen Jiabao.

The strategy includes greater efforts to crack down on IPR infringement, protect legal rights, strengthen international co-operation and stick closer to international practice, as well as try to raise public awareness.

Yin said China was “resolute” on IPR protection and it was particularly keen to protect Olympic intellectual property.

Xu Chao, vice-director of the copyright department of the National Copyright Administration, said it was often difficult to shutter shops selling pirated products.

“Many malls let out counters, and each counter is run independently. If they do something illegal, you would have to shut down the entire mall,” he said.

The efforts of customs, public security and cultural departments in tackling infringement of intellectual property rights achieved remarkable results last year, he said, and nearly 3,000 people were arrested on suspicion of IPR violations.

Public security departments investigated 2,283 cases of IPR infringement worth $213 million. Courts around the country dealt with 2,684 cases involving 4,328 people, and 4,322 were found guilty.

The government said 18 ministries, including the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Culture and the State Intellectual Property Office would join hands to publicize IPR protection during a special promotion week.

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