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Chinese Pirates Run Aground -- 3,000 Shops Closed
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At the beginning of a 100-day concentrated crackdown around the country on people selling pirated audio-video products and computer software China has shut down 3,014 shops in the first 30 days.


About 8.371 million illegal products, mainly pirated CDs, DVDs and computer software have been confiscated, according to the State Press and Publication Administration (SPPA).


Police and copyright officials have raided more than 89,000 shops and street vendors nationwide and 9,508 of them were punished for selling pirated products. "We're giving shopkeepers a stern lesson to make it clear that selling pirated products will lead to strict penalties," said Liu Binjie, vice director of the SPPA.


According to SPPA officials more than 60 percent of shops nationwide registered in the audio-video trade had handed in pirated discs they were storing. In Chongqing City, Hubei Province and Jiangsu Province about 150,000 pirated products were collected.


"We will not punish shops that have voluntarily handed in pirated products in the first month," said Liu, "but will strike hard on those who ignore our warning and continue to sell such goods. We’ll close every shop which we find is guilty of violations in the next two months."


For those still selling illegal material after mid-August stricter punishments will be meted out with  minimum fines of 10,000 yuan (US$1,250) being imposed, according to previous reports. And the business licenses of sellers will be revoked if more than 100 illegal discs are found for sale.


On Wednesday, about 100 writers, singers and lyricists along with people from the computer software industry attended a signing ceremony in Beijing to show their support for the anti-piracy campaign.


"As a singer I’m one of the victims of piracy which makes it harder to release profitable albums and I want to call on the public to join the fight against pirates," said Zhang Shaohan, a teenage pop singer. She's risen to stardom over the last two years with her sweet voice and innocent appearance winning the hearts of young Chinese.


The piracy campaign got underway on July 25 and will end in late October. But although the SPPA on Wednesday said great progress had been made with the campaign many pop artists were not impressed.


"It’s too early to call that 'great progress'," said Gu Jianfen, the lyricist who is famous for writing many revolutionary songs which have inspired generations of Chinese. "It should not be just 100 days," Gu said. "The campaign must go on for 1,000 days or 10,000 days."


In another move copyright authorities are preparing an Internet system to fight on-line piracy which will be able to identify pirated software, films, music and other copyrighted works.


The government has issued the Protection of the Right of Communication through the Network, effective from July 1, which bans the uploading and downloading of Internet material without the copyright holder's permission.


Officials said the lack of high-level copyright protection would hamper the country's attempt to ratify two international treaties on the Internet with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).


(Xinhua News Agency August 17, 2006)

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