U.S. majors win China video piracy cases

MPA companies awarded $30K

SYDNEY — The U.S. majors have scored a breakthrough in the battle to stem video piracy in China, winning six court cases against offenders in Shanghai.

The MPA companies launched the actions in September, alleging copyright infringement after pirated DVDs of “A Bug’s Life,” “Dinosaur,” “Moulin Rouge” and “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” were discovered.

The defendants were the Shanghai Hezhong Enterprise Development Co., Shanghai Husheng Audio & Video Co., Zeng Kouliang and Shanghai Yatu Audio Video & Cultural Distribution Co.

A local court ruled in favor of the U.S. studios Aug. 4 and awarded costs and damages of $30,167. In one case, the landlord, Zeng Kouliang, was found liable for the infringing activity occurring in his building.

Other terms imposed included ceasing from further infringement of the titles and destroying all copies; making a formal apology; and agreeing to pay increased penalties if a similar infringement of any MPA company film occurs again.

“If we are ever going to make headway combating piracy in this region, a significant increase in the number of criminal actions — complemented by strategic civil legal actions — against pirates needs to take place,” said Mike Ellis, the MPA’s veep and regional director for anti-piracy in the Asia-Pacific region. “The quick resolution of these cases is a step in the right direction. We will continue to review the impact that these cases have on deterring rampant film piracy in China..”

The MPA says DVD piracy is an escalating problem in China — the number of pirate discs seized in MPA raids rocketed from zero in 1998 to 6.1 million in 2002.