Thursday, September 13, 2007

Bust of an Allegedly Pirated DVD Vendor in Hangzhou Night Market: Show or for Real?

A certain msmakara witnessed, recorded it and uploaded a video on YouTube of Hangzhou police who bust an alleged pirated DVD vendor in June 9, 2007. See here.

msmakara wrote as an introduction to the video:
"As I was walking through the market, I heard someone yell out something very loudly. After this, all of the vendors went crazy rushing to hide all of their apparently counterfeit goods. It was a little scary being in the middle of it all--it was a complete frenzy, and I could tell all the vendors were really scared. This video doesn't quite capture the chaotic feeling of the market but they might give you a hint. At first I was surprised that the police allowed me to film them up close. But then I realized that they probably want to show Westerners that they are enforcing their IP laws."

In the end of the video you see the following text:
"New Chinese law states that anyone found with 500 or more counterfeit a/v products can be imprisoned for up to 7 years and fined from one to 15 times the illegal earnings, or from 50 to 200 percent of the business turnover."

Msmakara refers to the Interpretation of the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate on Several Issues in the Concrete Application of the Law in Handling Criminal Cases of Intellectual Property Infringement, that went into effect April 5, 2007.

Article 1: “where for profit-making purposes and without the permission of the copyright owner there is reproduction and distribution of a literary work, a musical, cinematographic, television, or video recording work, computer software or other works, and the total quantity of reproductions is 500 units or more, this shall constitute “other serious circumstances” pursuant tot Article 217 of the Criminal Code; where the total quantiy of reproductions is 2500 units or more, this shall constitute “other exceptionally serious circumstances” under Article 217 of the Criminal Code.

According to Article 217 Criminal Law: “when there are other serious circumstances, the violator is to be sentenced to not more than three years of fixed-term imprisonment, criminal detention, and may in addition or exclusively be sentenced to a fine; when the amount of the illicit income is huge or when there are other particularly serious circumstances, he is to be sentenced to not less than three years and not more than seven years of fixed-term imprisonment and a fine.

Source:TidyTent Intellectual Property Law Firm, see here.

With the last text sentence in the video Msmakara makes clear there is not room for the thought that this raid constituted an effective deterrent:
"Within minutes, the vendors in the market began selling their counterfeit products again."

The question is what happens in reality with the DVD vendor. Will he be back selling his products again the next day or will he really be sanctioned. In other words, was it all a show for public foreign consumption? Is seems that in this case the police took action, but lukewarmly and the pirated DVD vendors felt relatively safe, because they are with many and the police probably only wanted single out one vendor of allegedly pirated DVDs to set an example.


William Lewis said...

Heck, I'll give it the benefit of the doubt and say it is real. But it is still just for show. I applaud the police for actually cracking down on someone, and this particular individual seemed to have a lot of boxed counterfeits for a street vendor, but when the counterfeit DVDs are sold just as extensively in stores and for the same price, and counterfeit DVD street retailers seem to be on every corner, the extent that an isolated bust in Hangzhou will have on the pirated DVD market is questionable, at best.

Maybe some people who have access to YouTube will be deterred from purchasing or selling pirated DVDs?

FOARP said...

"Maybe some people who have access to YouTube will be deterred from purchasing or selling pirated DVDs?"

Or from posting copyrighted material on Youtube? That's a big if!