REGULATION

China touts nine-month intellectual property crackdown

Jul 13, 2011 06:31 am | IDG News Service
China released the results of a nine-month campaign to stop piracy in the country

by Michael Kan

China's nine-month campaign to crackdown on intellectual property violations has been the country's most successful one to date, resulting in the closure of numerous websites hosting pirated materials and the confiscation of hordes of fake electronic goods, according to Chinese authorities.

The campaign ran from October to June, and cases solved involved counterfeit goods worth 13.1 billion yuan (US$2 billion).

China is also inspecting government agencies to ensure all departments are using licensed software. As a result of the inspections, government agencies have purchased an extra $58.3 million worth of operating system, office and anti-virus software.

China has long been known as a hotbed for counterfeit goods and pirated downloads, with countries including the U.S. complaining that more needs to be done to stop the criminal activities. Microsoft has also been a major victim, and the company has fought back through lawsuits against alleged offenders in China while also holding campaigns advocating customers buy legal copies of software.

About 78 percent of all software installed on PCs in China is pirated, according to a 2010 report from the Business Software Alliance. The commercial value of China's pirated software is $7.7 billion, second only to the U.S., where the commercial value of pirated software has reached $9.5 billion.

China's campaign to crackdown on intellectual property violations is featured as a "special exhibition" on a new government website. It provides detailed information and photos on the different operations and cases authorities were involved with.

In certain cases, the campaign confiscated counterfeit mobile phones and also shut down download sources for pirated software. Chinese authorities also noted that 18 popular video websites including the two largest, Youku and Tudou, worked to delete illegal videos from their sites.

The crackdown also extended to the sites of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, where counterfeit goods were sold. Alibaba companies Taobao and Alipay assisted in an investigation that stopped 20,000 copies of pirated publications from being sold.

The campaign resulted in 9,031 arrests, according to China's Ministry of Commerce vice minister Jiang Zengwei, who spoke on the matter during a press conference on Tuesday. He also refuted claims that the campaign was more bark than bite, given that China has held crackdowns on intellectual property violations before. "This time, the measures and effectiveness of the Chinese government's operations are unprecedented," he said.

"It should be said that there are still problems with intellectual property rights in China. But I don't agree that it's very serious,"Jiang said. "I believe China's intellectual property right protections are at a good turning point, and will get better and better."