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Officials, Entertainers Stage Events to Fight Piracy

About 100 Chinese music celebrities gathered at Beijing's Capital Stadium Saturday night standing on a huge CD-shape platform and singing for public support in the country's fight against rampant music piracy. The stadium was nearly full, and organizers said 150 million more watched on television. Pop stars sang their hit songs and occasionally urged their fans not to buy pirated products. Organized by the central government and associations in entertainment circles, the concert was just one of a series anti-piracy events going on in Beijing Saturday, aiming to show officials' and entertainers' determination to hit hard on piracy. Events included a forum, a Beijing anti-piracy declaration and a public destruction of pirated products.

"If Beijing fails to solve piracy soon, we will not deserve to host the Olympics in 2008," said Feng Xiaogang, a Chinese director who was recently named the country's proponent of copyright protection.

"This is not exaggerating," said Wang Ziqiang, spokesman of National Copyright Administration, or the state copyright watchdog." Rampant piracy harms people's creativity, and a nation without creativity is a nation without hope."

He said that despite repeated government crackdowns, intellectual property infringement is still rampant in China. "We don't know when the problem can not solved, but we do know China will take the challenge."

Yan Xiaohong, vice chief of the administration, said they had set "fewer complaints, more action" as the guideline for IPR protection in 2005. "China will absolutely fulfill its commitments to the world," he said.

In the morning, three truckloads of confiscated books, tapes, DVDs, CDs, and computer discs were dumped on a red carpet and publicly smashed to pieces. Copyright officials and people from entertainment circles were invited to destroy the pirated products. Last year copyright administrations across China confiscated about 85.05 million pirated products, 25 percent more than that in2003, and China's judicial authorities lowered the legal threshold to criminalize IPR violators. People who sell more than 5,000pirated CDs might end up seven years behind bars, authorities have said.

"Though the government and justice departments work hard to stamp out piracy, we cannot win the battle against IPR infringement without public support," Yan said, adding that the public's anti-piracy awareness needs to be raised. Audience of the concert corresponded what Yan had said." A copyrighted CD for 200 yuan (US$24.2), pirated one for 10 yuan (US$1.21), what will you buy?" -- someone on stage asked. "The pirated one," answered the thousands of people in the stadium.

"What I want to do is to repeatedly promote the use of copyrighted things," said Feng, adding that if all Chinese watch pirated movies, Chinese films are doomed to be barred from the world's market.

Yan said his administration is going to hold large-scale IPR knowledge promotion in middle schools across China early this summer.

2005 is a good chance for China to upgrade its IPR protection, he said. "We will take advantage of that to help the public to raise their anti-piracy awareness."

(Xinhua News Agency February 26, 2005)

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