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Authorities step up their efforts to knock back film piracy

By Cao Yin | China Daily | Updated: 2019-02-20 09:18 申博娱乐注册
The Wandering Earth, a Chinese sci-fi blockbuster screened recently, is one of popular films that have been plagued by piracy.  [Photo/Mtime]

Legal specialists welcomed China's increasing efforts to fight movie piracy after the issue was highlighted as a priority of the country's top copyright watchdog this year.

The National Copyright Administration pledged on Monday that it would ramp up the fight against people privately recording films in theaters and strictly inspect online platforms that sell or spread pirated works.

The fight would be a joint effort of the China Film Administration, the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, while inspections would focus on websites, smartphone applications, WeChat accounts and e-commerce platforms.

"If we find serious piracy, we'll transfer the cases to public security departments to be dealt with as criminal matters," the copyright authority said.

It was determined to combat piracy in the film industry, as it found several popular movies shown in cinemas-including The Wandering Earth, which is now ranked second in the country's all-time box office-had been pirated during the seven-day Spring Festival holiday, which ended on Feb 10.

Kang Lixia, a lawyer from Conzen Law Firm in Beijing who specializes in intellectual property disputes, received a website link that said she could watch the pirated The Wandering Earth via WeChat during the holiday.

She applauded the government's plan to inspect small websites and WeChat because "big platforms do stricter reviews of uploaded videos after they were ordered to safeguard copyrights in recent years".

Besides the administrative actions, she suggested legislators should provide for heavier punishments to discourage copyright infringers.

Chen Yongwei, an IP professional at Peking University, said movie piracy remains a serious problem that's hard to solve, "as many pirated movies are put on websites that use overseas servers".

In a statement posted on Monday, the copyright authority said it was aware of overseas servers and that it would increase international law enforcement cooperation with other countries and regions this year.

It said it would take swift action when finding copyright infringements online, adding that it quickly deleted about 7,700 links to pirated movies during the Spring Festival holiday.

But both experts said copyright protection in the internet era means going beyond the removal of links. They called for copyright authorities to innovate.

"Some people choose pirated films so they can pay less or even watch for free," Chen said. "That's some people's choice and it's hard to change. But we can change the way films are offered."

For example, a filmmaker can provide an online version for websites, but viewers would be interrupted by advertising, he said.

A blacklist of people making, uploading, selling or spreading pirated films can also be created. "They should be pressured over the infringement," Kang said.

A better way is to knock them out of the industry permanently, she said.

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