Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Words Less Spoken about Copyright Piracy in China

Much ado about copyright piracy in China. Liu Baijia wrote about China's measures against copyright infringement in the article 'Taking action against piracy' for China Daily.

Many familiar arguments can be read here: about on the one hand China's great speed of implementing IP legislation, where China needed only 20 years, other countries needed 100 years; and on the other that foreign countries need to be patient, because China has just begun in this field of enforcement.

But a novel way to write about the subject matter can also be found in the article; a defence against a complaint nobody but intellectual property infringers would make:

"We cannot criticize this dual protection on one hand for the government's interference and on the other hand say the government should take more responsibility[..]." I think the role of government; protecting and enforcing law, including intellectual property rights, is not controversially, using the administrative enforcement route included.

A reason for the lack of enforcement by the National Copyright Administration of China (NAC), that remains unwritten in the article, is the NAC' undercapacity. The NAC is staffed with only 200 people! (see page 46 of Paper Tiger or Roaring Dragon, China's TRIPs Implementations and Enforcement).

Liu Baijiu writes: "In April, the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate issued a joint interpretation, sharply lowering the threshold for criminal charges against piracy set three years ago. According to the rule, organizations and individuals selling 500 pirated discs, instead of 1,000 in the 2004 rule, can receive a three year sentence, while those selling 2,500 copies can be sent to prison for seven years."

However, one can argue as Joseph Simone, partner of Baker & McKenzie in Hong Kong, rightly does, that the threshold of 500 pirated disks is much too high. In this constellation infringers can sell 499 pirated disks in batches, so they will stay below the threshold.

The writer also gives information about the confiscated pirated goods. However, these statistics can never alone give a relevant picture about whether China's enforcement is adequate. One needs the statistics about the infringement levels aswell. Read about my proposal for the use of the Enforcement/Infringement Ratio here.

Read Liu Baijia's article here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Who should bear the burder of proof of "inadequacy" of China's IP enforcement? Obviously it should not be Chinese government. Whenever it defends itself, there are always evidence to prove the existence of counterfeiting and piracy. Therefore the burden should be imposed on those who challenge Chinese government's position. Even in US, you can easilily buy fake products if you want, so can other countries complain US provide inadequate protection of IP simply due to that fact?