Measures to protect IPR on the Web

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The government's efforts to protect online intellectual property rights (IPR) will be strengthened this year by promoting the establishment of related industry associations, said Liu Shaodong, an official in the online broadcasting department of the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT).

The number of websites that have a license for playing video content was 594 by the end of 2010, Liu said.

"We received 232 applications for the license last year but 71 of them were rejected because they didn't meet the standards of SARFT's examination system," he added.

The standard for getting licenses requires that video content provided by websites should be copyrighted and there should be a proper internal management system and enough staff.

The National Copyright Administration launched a campaign in 2005 to combat online piracy.

By the end of 2009, it had achieved significant results. As many as 2,621 cases concerning Internet piracy had been handled, among which 91 serious cases were sent to judicial authorities and 1,198 illegal websites involved in copyright infringements were forced to shut down, according to the National Copyright Administration.

The government also intensified supervision over major Internet enterprises, a precautionary move to stop piracy spreading. In 2009, the number of websites being supervised by local copyright authorities reached 3,029. They include, Baidu, Sohu and Youku.

The rights and interests of copyright holders are also closely watched. The China Film Copyright Association was established in 2009 with the approval of the Ministry of Civil Affairs and the General Administration of Press and Publication, said Liu.

He added the association acts on behalf of its members to collect royalty fees and then deliver the money to them.

In order to enhance its implementation, departments in SARFT have strengthened their coordination, including the center of network programs transmission supervision, netcasting and law regulation.

SARFT is now working on the establishment of an Internet audio-visual programs industry association, and it has already submitted an application for its approval to the Ministry of Civil Affairs. "There is a good chance it will be approved," Liu said.

Wang Ziqiang, spokesman for the National Copyright Administration, said: "It is vital to protect online IPR, otherwise the traditional press, the publication industry, movie and music companies will face severe threats from online 'theft' if everyone goes online to get free material."

Yan Xiaohong, deputy head of the General Administration of Press and Publication, said: "Although we started to take action against the issue later than Western countries, in reality the situation of online piracy in China is almost the same as it is there.

"It's critical to raise awareness of IPR protection among the general public at this stage because the number of consumers of cultural products is very large in China."

The number of Internet users in China hit 450 million at the end of November, up more than 20 percent year-on-year, official figures show.

It is hoped the integrity of the industry will be improved through the establishment of related associations, which could provide a platform for self-regulation, said Liu.

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