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Crack Down on Pirates
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Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) violations cannot be eliminated overnight but China will speed up the process a top copyright official pledged yesterday in Beijing.

The government has been resolute and made headway in cracking down on the piracy of laser discs and software, said Yan Xiaohong, deputy chief of the National Copyright Administration of China.

"For a developing nation like China protecting IPR is a process," he explained to the press conference. "We hope to shorten that process as much as possible but it's difficult to eliminate this problem overnight," he said.

To ensure serious IPR offenders face criminal penalties instead of just administrative fines, China has made it mandatory for law-enforcers to transfer such offences to the judicial authorities in a timely fashion, Zhu Xiaoqing, deputy procurator-general of the Supreme People's Procurator, said yesterday.

The combination of administrative punishment and criminal penalties had allowed copyright law-enforcement agencies to strike hard at the pirates, Yan said.

Last year these agencies transferred 18 major Internet copyright infringement cases to judicial departments, according to Yan.

Since 1996 China has broken up 223 illegal laser disc production lines with six of those being stopped this year alone, he said.

The government is offering rewards of up to 300,000 yuan (US$37,000) for tip-offs which leads to the exposure of any underground production lines, said Yan. 

During a recent investigation of half of the country's disc manufacturers, authorities revoked the licenses of six companies and halted the production of eight more. These included one in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality and another in Beijing.

Visiting US Commerce Secretary, Carlos Gutierrez, said in a speech at Chongqing University yesterday that widespread counterfeiting was not only harming US companies but also posing a threat to China's own long-term development.

Yan said China had destroyed 106 million pirated discs and books last year alone which suggested the country's crackdown was having an affect. However, at the same time there remained a serious problem with piracy which needed to be stopped by using more forceful and effective measures if necessary..

Yan also said that by the end of last year all Chinese government departments were using authorized software.

The copyright agency, along with the ministries of information industry and commerce, require computer manufacturers to pre-install copyright operating systems and demand Chinese enterprises to use authentic products only.

Also speaking at yesterday's briefing, Zheng Shaodong, a Ministry of Public Security official, said China wanted to "strengthen cooperation with international authorities" in IPR protection.

"We want to strike hard against international intellectual property right infringements," Zheng said.

Chinese courts heard more than 3,500 criminal cases concerning IPRs last year, police arrested 2,119 suspects for violations and customs handled 1,210 cases of infringements.

(China Daily March 28, 2006)


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