Foreign and domestic Internet copyright holders are treated as equals in China and if there is clear evidence of a violation, the government will conduct a thorough probe and see to it that the guilty are punished, a senior official has said.
The government's resolve was evident during the four-month special action program of National Copyright Administration of China (NCAC) when about 130 of the 436 cases were probed at the request of overseas industry associations.
A total of 361 offenders were pulled up for copyright violation, NCAC Deputy Director Yan Xiaohong told a news conference yesterday.
The number of foreign-related cases on the Net was very "high", but 90 percent of them were handled properly in the four months, starting from September.
After careful examination, NCAC decided to directly deal with 302 cases in 31 provinces and cities.
Nineteen provinces and cities, such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, were marked out as key areas of investigation, with about 50 major cases.
During the special campaign, fines worth 705,100 yuan ($88,000) were imposed, eight computers and 71 illegal servers confiscated, 205 illegal websites closed, and 6 cases transferred to judicial departments for investigating criminal liabilities.
Copyright owners' organizations, such as China Software Alliance and Motion Picture Association of America, provided NCAC with clues to more than 170 cases, offering preliminary evidence for direct crackdown on infringements and piracy, Yan said.
Statistics show that by the end of last year, China had 140 million netizens and 843,000 websites.
"Internet has no borders, and has unlimited storage space and its development has increased the number of severe violations and piracy," he said.
Many websites offer free downloads of movies, music, software and textbooks without being authorized to do so.
To deal with the problem, China implemented Regulations on the Protection of the Right of Communication through Information Network on July 1, 2006.
"The four-month special action program has brought order and cleansed the Net copyright protection environment," Yan said.
"With the rapid development of Net technology, infringements and piracy in new forms will come to light. The fight is far from over."
The special campaign focused on illegal downloads of music, movies, software and textbooks and cracking down on illegal "private servers" and "pirated programs" circumventing or sabotaging technological measures and removing or altering electronic rights management information.
(China Daily February 9, 2007)