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World IP Day 2011 Exhibits Progress in Copyright Protection in China

World IP Day 2011 Exhibits Progress in Copyright Protection in China

Han Xiucheng, representative of the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) has stated that several government agencies have actually began a 7-day program for emphasizing on the importance of protecting intellectual property for the Chinese economy. The program marked the World IP Day of 2011. These sustained efforts by the governing bodies are worth applauding. However, the rate of copyright piracy in China is still remarkably higher as compared to the other developing nations. The rates of piracy have reached alarming levels of 80 to 90+%.

The rapid rise in piracy levels cannot be blamed on a single cause alone. It is a cumulative effect of lack of efficacy with regards to enforcement regimes and also the attitude that people exhibit, at large, towards pirated items. Although the recent years have witnessed a shift in preference towards original items as opposed to pirated works, the rate of change has been extremely slow. Therefore, studying the most recent efforts made by the PRC government for controlling piracy of copyrights in China can prove extremely useful.

Registering copyrights is often seen as the most effective way of protecting copyrights from piracy. Although the need for registering one may vary with the type of copyright that is being dealt with, it is still considered to be one of the easiest ways of combating piracy. When you register copyrights, tracking them becomes simpler. You can use the internet and track them down easily with the help of registration numbers and other details. With these goals in mind, the General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP) is looking to establish some positive trends. It is aiming to increase the total number of copyrights duly registered from 451,000 to 700,000 through 2010 to 2015.

Besides aiming to increase the number of registered copyrights, the GAPP has also taken some very concrete legal action. Penalties have been issued in 49,416 cases of copyright infringement, over 128,493 illegal corporate ventures have been shut and 317 million products thriving on pirated copyrights have been confiscated. These figures are truly representative of the extent to which the GAPP has been dedicating itself to controlling copyright piracy in China. However, the basic doubts are still centered on whether consumers in China have been able to change their perceptions towards pirated products in this country. Would they agree to purchase them in place of originals?

However, the good news is that, such sustained efforts have been able to create a solid awareness towards the value that IP rights have and the role it plays in the Chinese society. According to the current reports, the percentage of Chinese population appreciating the importance of IP rights increased from 60.6% to 75% through 2006 to 2010. The GAPP also predicts that the number would increase to about 80% in 2015. Dissemination of awareness about World IP Day has been achieved with the help of publicity drives. More focused efforts include government initiatives which ensure that government organizations use only legitimate and original software and the likes.

China’s nascent digital products, publications and software industry are known to possess immense potential. However, the growth has reportedly been marred by piracy of copyrights. Therefore, the stakes involved here are pretty high. In order to unleash the growth potential of these industries, the governing bodies are resorting to stringent legal action with the help of the PRC courts and are also taking concrete administrative efforts for controlling piracy. As a result, the PRC courts are overloaded with cases of IP infringement. As many as 42,000 cases were tried through 2010.

However, the authority of the courts can sometimes prove inadequate in dealing with cases of infringement. Legal loopholes can prove to be the ultimate deterrent for achieving criminal prosecution. Although some favorable changes in the criminal laws have been made for facilitating easy criminal prosecution of infringers, quick money making prospects often lure many into the domain of copyright infringement. In a recently registered case, a person was awarded one year and six months of imprisonment along with a fine of $6,100. Ironically, this very person was convicted of selling pirate videos even while being on probation for committing the same crime. According to reports, even after her business proceedings was sealed and stocks seized, the individual managed to accumulate over 36,000 pirated DVDs within a few weeks.

Therefore, it is quite clear that the availability of pirated stuff is rampant in the Chinese markets. Consumer demand and market forces are probably to blame for these unfavorable trends. Even the threat of criminal detention proves inadequate in deterring the efforts of infringers. Therefore, it is can be easily concluded that strengthening regimes and the legal machinery would not be enough. The nature of consumer demand and their inclination towards pirated products would also have to be addressed comprehensively and continually.

China possesses an immense potential for copyright related enterprises. However, it would be immensely difficult to realize the same in the wake of the unmanageable demand for pirate goods. Consumers have to be educated so that they can appreciate the value of original products not only for the country’s economy, but also for themselves. The current efforts undertaken by the PRC and the GAPP have been targeted at addressing these issues. And, the best day to highlight the same would obviously be the World IP Day 2011. The relentless efforts will surely help in hitting the right notes in the minds of the Chinese consumer.

Note: This is a summary of an article found though our research. It is stated here with editorial comment for members only. You can go through the complete article at the following link: http://www.chinalawinsight.com

The New Asia Innovation Team

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