Hollywood movie studios and producers, attempting to earn a fair profit return both on large screens in theatres and the sale and rental of videos, find themselves losing millions of dollars due to the piracy of their product, mostly centered in China. “China’s poor reputation for intellectual property protection stems largely from the widespread availability of pirated DVD movies and software. Last month, the Business Software Alliance in Washington estimated that 92% of software used in China during 2003 was unlicensed and illegal. That figure tied the country with Vietnam for the dubious distinction of having the world’s highest piracy rate” (Lemon 2004 1). Current negotiations have now given evidence “that the Chinese government has agreed to more vigorously enforce anti-piracy laws. Illegal copying of U.S. copyrighted materials in China is estimated to cost American companies more than $2 billion annually” (Anon 2004 6)
Because some Chinese studios and producers are also feeling an economic pinch due to piracy, the Chinese government is stepping up its efforts to curb such content piracy. “China’s accession to the World Trade Organization last year seems to have helped, by requiring China top revise its copyright, trademark and patent laws to bring them in line with international standards” (Cain 2004 3).
The Chinese Ministry of Culture is cracking down and has “targeted over 30 ‘brands’ of pirated video compact discs and so far 6/02 million illegal video-audio products…have been confiscated…..ion the past few months, 4,000 illegal video-audio shops were shut down…” (Anon 2004 1). Among the actions taken by the Chinese government most recently is to determine the piracy violations of the movie, Shrek 2. “Ion a n otice circulated recently, the administration said that any DVDs or VCD’s on Shrek 2 sold before Its official release date of) November 5, are regarded as pirated and will be confiscated” (Anon 2004 1).
It is difficult to get 100% cooperation, because the sale- illegal and otherwise- of films and music on tape is a huger business in China, where a single tape may cost as little as $1. Despite some valiant government and local efforts, the fact is also clears that corrupt[t officials will find some way to protect their “clientele”.
The European Union is also concerned with piracy, especially in China. ?But, as the EU spokesman stated: “The EU has called on Chinese authorities to make it easier to prosecute product pirates. Chinese authorities say that because of the country’s sheer size it’s difficult to police copyright laws” (Saragosa 2004 1)
International intellectual property and copyright laws apply, especially since (as was mentioned above) China has now joined the World Trade Organization which has strict copyright laws. For example: “The Berne Convention for then Protection of Literary and Artistic Works is the keystone for all international copyright agreements. Today, although there is no such thing as an ‘international copyright’ per se, most countries have agreed to basic copyright protection terms” (Anon 2004 1). What needs to be more positively recognized, especially in this instance of movie piracy ion China, is that these billions of dollars lost include not only rights of the studios and producers, but also subtracts salary and royalty payments to actors and other creative personnel. The real problem, concerning piracy, is that there is no up-to-date international law protecting film makers, for example, from global piracy. “Designed more than 100 years go to meet the simpler needs of an industrial era, it is an undifferentiated, one-size-fits-all system (Thurow 197 95). Even as China (and other nations) make local and regional efforts to confiscate pirated CDs and DVDs, the problem is too widespread, and the international laws too vague. The problem, of course, goes beyond government intervention. As long as there are millions of Chinese (and Americans) willing to pay for pirated material, the piracy will continue to increase. The problem also is in the attitude of the typical purchaser who asks: “What’s the harm?
Cain, R. (2004): “Content Piracy in China: A massive problem. Is there any solution?” Hollywood Reporter, Feb 27, 2004 www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr/pwc/ talking_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1000446920
Lemon, S. (2004): “Overcoming the Piracy Stigma in China” ComputerWorld, Aug. 30, 2004 www.computerworld.com/managementtopics/ outsourcing/story/0,10801,95536,00.html
Saragosa, E. (2004) “EU to monitor anti-=piracy efforts” BBC News, Nov. 10, 2004 news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/4000295.stm
Thurow, L. C. (19976) “Needed: A New System of Intellectual Property Rights” in Course textbook, Comm431 USC Bookstore Custom Publishing
. No author listed (2004): “China Cracks Down on Movie Piracy” People’s Daily online english.people.com.cn/english/ 200003/30/eng20000330T107.html
No author listed (2004): “Progress in Chinese Piracy Talks” Publishers’ Weekly, April 16, 2004 vol. 251, iss.17, p. 6
No author listed (2004): “China To Crack Down on piracy of Shrek 2” – People’s Daily online
No author listed (2004): “Copyright and rights-related laws” www.ifpi.org/site-content/legal/treaties.htm