China must change legislation to combat piracy


Gazeta Mercantil / Legal & Jurisprudence (Reuters) - 20/12/2004

Beijing, December 20, 2004 - Violations generate US $ 3,8 billion losses to US companies. China must facilitate the fight against intellectual property rights crimes, a measure that can alleviate US concerns about the growing copying of films, software and other goods. According to the United States government, piracy costs the industry billions of dollars a year. "When promulgating and enforcing a new judicial interpretation, what used to be a minor infringement of intellectual property could soon become a crime," said an official of the Supreme People's Court, according to the China Daily newspaper. The newspaper did not say whether the interpretation, which was expected later this year, was actually released.

US industry representatives see the move as a key decision by the Chinese government's goodwill to resolve the problem. They believe the expected guidelines could be released later this week.

Piracy is widespread in China, with companies such as Microsoft, Time Warner and General Motors among the complainants of non-compliance with the law. DVDs of the latest Hollywood movies are sold on the sidewalks for less than $ 1, while street vendors offer perfect copies of the new Nike sneakers or Louis Vuitton handbags for a fraction of the price of the authentic product.

Foreign companies complained that Chinese companies illegally copied product designs, from automobiles to industrial pumps. "Legal departments plan to lower the threshold for crimes of intellectual property rights," reported the China Daily. "The new judicial interpretation involves convictions and penalties, as well as the fight against online piracy."

"The new judicial interpretation will provide more legal support for the police department to combat crimes related to piracy," added the newspaper. Chinese property rights violations cost US companies between $ 2,5 billion and $ 3,8 billion a year, according to a report released last week.