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Pirates swap the decks

Peddlers can trade three fakes for one genuine disc

An entrepreneur in Nanjing has launched an unusual campaign to stamp out Chinese piracy: He’s offering pirate retailers the chance to swap fake DVDs for real ones.

Peddlers of fakes get one genuine disc back for every three pirate copies.

Since the project started last week, seven wholesalers handed in more than 120,000 pirated discs. Organizers expect a lot more in coming weeks.

Pirate DVDs and software are openly sold in China’s urban areas for less than $1. The government has had limited success in its numerous campaigns to stop intellectual-property violations.

Du Kailin, manager of Zhongyi Video Center, is behind the swap. He says legit DVD sellers at the center, which opened in August, were losing out to peddlers of fakes.

The pirate retailers were also unhappy. The falling price of legit DVDs is cutting into their margins and they feared running afoul of government anti-piracy campaigns. But they were worried about what to do with their huge stocks of fakes.

“It took half a year to win their confidence, holding meetings and telling them how the crackdown would cost them eventually,” says Du, who has government support for the project.

Shi Zhengdong, piracy control chief at Nanjing’s culture bureau, cautiously welcomes the scheme: “It is a good thing that sellers of pirated discs want to conduct legal business. But we will wait to see their long-term behavior. And we will never stop our checkups on disc retailers.”

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