Chinese moviemakers are up in arms about TV stations showing movies without their permission as every year they run into over 60 million yuan (US$7.5 million) of economic losses.
According to a recent survey by the China Movie Copyright Protection Association (CMCPA), scores, if not hundreds, of provincial, city and county TV stations around the country air pirated versions of movies or buy low-cost copies from suppliers without authorization from moviemakers.
In July, China Education TV Station (ETV) was sentenced to pay 50,000 yuan (US$6,250) in fine to CCTV Movie Channel for illegally showing its movie Charging out of Amazon.
ETV argued that the movie was part of a program on patriotic movies to educate the public at non-commercial purposes, but Movie Channel found ETV netted in 130,000 yuan (US$16,250) from advertisement during the show time.
Take the 50,000 yuan fine as a criterion, the economic losses for movie producers are around 60 to 75 million yuan (US$7.5 to 9.4 million) each year, said Meng Yu, CMCPA's legal affairs director.
The fact that pirate copies of movies are widely sold in the streets in China is already a big headache for copyright protection, with the TV station situation adding to Chinese moviemakers' woes.
"The number of movies illegally aired is startling, more than 100 in the first six months of the year, and most of them are very recent," said Meng.
Their survey showed that, in June, Urumchi Movie Channel in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, for example, broadcast homemade box office hits The Promise and A Chinese Tall Story, as well as several others.
The association estimates that 1,200-1,500 movies made by their members are illegally broadcast by terrestrial TV stations each year.
(Xinhua News Agency, People's Daily August 14, 2006)