When "Star Wars: Episode III--Revenge of the Sith" opened in U.S. theaters, copies again hit the streets of Beijing within days. Sold out of bicycle baskets by roving vendors, available in mom-and-pop retail stores everywhere, the counterfeit DVDs retailed for about 75 cents each.
For movie executives, those DVDs drove home the fact that their ongoing fight against counterfeiters has basically made no headway. Frustrated, Motion Picture Association of America president Dan Glickman recently raised the prospect of a push for action at the World Trade Organization.
Indeed, the MPAA is part of a Washington, D.C.-based coalition of copyright companies now working with the U.S. Trade Representative to study the possibility of taking China before the WTO to compel a genuine crackdown. Given the tough sanctions provided by the WTO's Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights agreement, such a move would have major diplomatic implications--at a time when the U.S. urgently needs Chinese help on North Korea and other issues.