China’s National Office of Eliminating Pornography and Illegal Publications organized a public event in Beijing to destroy pirated books and DVDs, in an effort to showcase China’s efforts at protecting intellectual property. From the Los Angeles Times:
“This event is aimed at educating ordinary people and teaching [them] to respect other people’s ideas and work,” said Yan Xiaohong, the deputy director of the National Copyright Administration, chatting with reporters afterward. The agency said more than 26 million illegal items would be destroyed around China, about 1.2 million of which were in Beijing alone.
“It is a work in progress,” said James Zimmerman, a Beijing lawyer and chairman emeritus of the American Chamber of Commerce in China. “These kinds of campaigns get media attention, but you need to build institutional capacity. And in end, the police can only do so much; it is a matter of political will.”
Across town from where the pirated discs were being destroyed, the owner of a popular DVD shop had the latest releases on his shelves for less than $2 each, seemingly undisturbed by the campaign. But the owner said that police raids had become more common and that pirated DVDs were frequently confiscated.
“I’d say that three-quarters of the DVD shops in Beijing have closed,” said the owner, who gave his name only as Wang. “It’s only a matter of time for us as well.”
The Chinese government has been making an effort to clamp down intellectual property violations in China. For example, the number of intellectual property related cases brought to trial in China has increased in the past few years. From Xinhua:
Chinese courts handed out final rulings on 48,051 cases of intellectual property rights (IPR) infringement in 2010, a year-on-year increase of 32.96 percent, according to the Supreme People’s Court (SPC).
Last year, the SPC stepped up IPR protection and was active in a national crackdown on IPR infringement and production and selling of counterfeit goods, according to a SPC work report made public on Friday.
A year-on-year increase of 14.1 percent was recorded in the number of prosecuted suspects of IPR violation and production and selling of counterfeit goods, according to a work report of the Supreme People’s Procuratorate.
China’s State Council initiated a special six-month campaign late last year to target intellectual property violations. From the Chinese government’s website on Intellectual Property:
The Information Office of the State Council announced on a press conference held on November 30 that the State Council will launch a series of actions to protect intellectual property rights, targeting at legal use of software, games, literature works, films and television programs.
Jiang Zengwei, Vice Minister of China’s Ministry of Commerce and Office Director of the national leading group of the special campaign said, IPR protection is essential to maintain a stable development of the market and the actions to be taken nationwide also represent the decision of relevant authorities to resolve the problems.
However,in 2010 the U.S. International Trade Commission issued a report called China: Intellectual Property Infringement, Indigenous Innovation Policies and Frameworks for Measuring the Effects on the U.S. Economy, in which they indicated that IP protection in China is still very weak. From the report:
Counterfeiting in China has reached unprecedented high levels. In 2009, China was the source of 79 percent of the counterfeit goods seized at the U.S. border, with an additional 10 percent coming from Hong Kong. The United States is not alone in tracing most counterfeit goods to China. In 2008, the World Customs Organization, reporting on data collected from 121 countries, found that 65 percent of detected counterfeit shipmentscame from mainland China.Many U.S. companies doing business in China consider counterfeiting to be one of their most serious challenges and report that weak civil andcriminal IP enforcement exacerbates the problem.The effects on trademark owners include lost sales and revenues, a tarnished brand nameand reputation, and increased enforcement costs. The overriding concern for trademark owners is that their authentic, high-quality products will be priced out of the market in China and other countries by poor-quality, cheaper knockoffs. Trademark owners frequently find that counterfeit products featuring their trademarks appear on the market in China before they have established IP rights or put in place a strategy for addressinginfringement