China Goes After Vendors of Pirated Products

The country's legendary battle against intellectual property piracy gained new momentum Thursday when the Ministry of Culture announced plans to shut down audio-video products markets across China by the end of this year.

The ministry is planning to ban audio and video markets to remove illegal competition with the genuine products sold in audio-video chain stores, department stores and bookstores, said Zhang Indian, vice-director of the ministry's market department.

Markets where groups of small-scale vendors hawk sometimes dubious tapes CDs, VCDs and DVDs have sprouted up around the country like bamboo shoots after rain ever since the early 1990s.

According to Zhang, the Ministry of Culture plans to shut down more than 200 of the markets in cities across China by December.

The markets slated for closing house an estimated 7,000 retail sellers. The sheer number of people selling potentially illegal goods made it difficult, if not impossible, for law enforcement officials to supervise, he said.

Zhang said the situation allowed vendors to sell pirated and pornographic audio-video discs and tapes openly and even led them to organize resistance to law enforcement efforts.

The ministry launched a national campaign to gradually shut down audio-video products markets in 1999. This year, the campaign has gone into overdrive.

By the end of July, more than 120 audio-video products markets had been shut down and the other 80 had already agreed to a timetable for closing, Zhang revealed.

But the shutdown is not the end of the ministry's plans.

Zhang claimed more efforts need to be made to strengthen management and supervision of the country's audio-video industry, which has seen exploded as Chinese people spend more and more on entertainment.

Figures from the International Music Record Association indicate that China sold 151 million cassettes and 13.5 million CDs in 1997, with a sales volume of US$279 million.

Investigations have indicated that 20 times more pirated products are sold than genuine products and statistics from the ministry show that most of the 700 illegal video production lines in Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and the Southeast Asian region target the Chinese mainland.

With China's entry into the World Trade Organization looming just over the horizon, Zhang said, standardization of the audio-video products industry through improved copyright protection is crucial.

The gap between the domestic law and the WTO's trade-related intellectual property rights system needs to be narrowed as soon as possible, he said.

(China Daily 08/17/2001)

In This Series

Pirated Disc Business Face New Penalty

China to Enhance Construction of Intellectual Property System

China to Enhance Construction of Intellectual Property System

Revised Laws to Safeguard Rights

Intellectual Property Protected by Law



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