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Efforts Against Piracy
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Views can be starkly different even if they are about the same thing.

If what US Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez said last week is right, China will face a disastrous situation in combating production and sales of illegal and pirated software. Gutierrez said that up to 70 percent of software on computers used by Chinese government agencies was pirated.

The Business Software Alliance (BSA), an international digital organization, claimed China's computer software piracy rate could be up to 90 percent.

Echoing Gutierrez and being equally sensational, the alliance's figure is nullifying all the efforts the Chinese government has made to crack down on piracy.

If the BSA statistics hold water, it would mean China's total market value of software, whose output last year stood at about 39 million yuan (US$4.9 million), would balloon to 10 times its size and account for one fourth of the country's total gross domestic product. That is impossible in any sense, especially considering that China remains a developing country with a nascent information industry.

Officials from intellectual property-related agencies admitted at yesterday's press conference that there may be some government agencies and individuals using pirated software despite tightened government control. But it would be against the fact to depict China as a dark place where most of its government departments and individuals are using unauthorized software products.

Some developed countries require that China be a pure land where no pirated software products exist. That is understandable since they are major information product exporters. But even on their own soil, pirated software remains a problem, with varied levels of seriousness.

The Chinese authorities have been taking great efforts to clamp down on illegal software products and to protect intellectual property rights.

The country has spent heavily to ensure its government agencies purchase authorized software products. The central government alone will put in 140-150 million yuan (US$17.5-18.8 million).

China has dealt with an increasing number of IPR-related cases. Last year alone, 107 million pieces of pirated products were confiscated.

Since 2000, the Supreme People's Court has promulgated 25 documents interpreting IPR issues.

The recent lawsuit in which five famous international brand names won the case and were awarded compensation from a Chinese shopping mall for selling copies of their products, testifies to the country's judicial resolve to protect intellectual property rights.

China will continue its relentless efforts in that direction.

(China Daily April 20, 2006)

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