Dispute over country's violation of trade rules

BEIJING — China is appealing a World Trade Organization ruling that its regulations on the importation and distribution of films, music and books do not comply with trade rules.

The appeal, lodged Tuesday, had been widely expected.

The WTO’s seven-member Appellate Body will now have two to three months to reinvestigate the U.S.-China dispute, and it can uphold, modify or reverse lat month’s ruling. The result of the appeal is expected at the end of the year.

Washington has long argued that China’s controls on cultural products rob U.S. publishers and studios of the opportunity to make substantial sales, leaving the way open for local pirates to sell counterfeit copies.

The U.S. finally brought the case to the global trade watchdog in April 2007, saying that China was not providing enough access for imports of publications and audiovisual products including movies, CDs, DVDs, games and music downloading services.

A WTO expert panel issued its ruling on Aug. 12, largely upholding the U.S. allegations. It ruled that Beijing could not force foreign media companies to distribute their content through Chinese state-owned entities that have a monopoly over the market.

It called on China to revise its import regulations to bring them in line with WTO rules and China’s obligations in the organization.

The Chinese Commerce Ministry expressed regret over the ruling, saying that “China has always fulfilled its obligations on market access for publications, and the channels for foreign publications, films and audiovisual products entering the Chinese market are extremely open.”

China has imported some 500,000 titles of publications of all kinds every year since joining the WTO in 2001, as promised in its entry agreement, the ministry said.

The country is continuing its crackdown on copyright infringement, although not at a pace lively enough for Hollywood.

(Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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