BEIJINGThe Motion Picture Assn. has inked a deal with China’s giant e-commerce platform Taobao aimed at ensuring a better online environment for the sale of legal film and TV content — a significant step for Hollywood in its efforts to combat piracy. One of the top 20 most visited websites in the world, Taobao is a consumer-to-consumer site with more than 500 million registered users. It’s a unit of online behemoth Alibaba. In December, Taobao was retained on the U.S. government’s list of notorious markets for offering a wide range of copyright infringing products. The Chinese government opposed the move to keep it on the list. “This memorandum of understanding is a very significant step in promoting the legitimate sale and distribution of audio-visual content on the Internet. We are very confident of seeing positive and immediate results arising from this initiative,” said MPA Asia Pacific prexy, Mike Ellis. Under the deal, shops on Taobao.com will be required to hold a valid publication license and adopt more transparent criteria “to address recalcitrant sellers of goods (that) copyright owners have identified as infringing,” the MPA said in a statement. And both parties recognized the importance of strengthening existing standards, mechanisms and mutual responsibilities for identifying and removing pirated studio content from the platform, the statement said. China has stepped up efforts to protect intellectual property over the past few years, often with mixed results. Alibaba VP John Spelich said Taobao was committed to setting an example on respecting intellectual property. “This MoU demonstrates that continuing commitment. Our takedown system is designed to help intellectual property rights owners protect their rights in accordance with relevant laws and is consistent with systems of other leading e-commerce platforms around the world, but we welcome the consultation with MPA as a way of sharpening the focus and operational approach of that commitment,” he said.