US enters talks with China on piracy

The US has entered talks with China on how to tackle intellectual property rights violations, with China vowing to crack down on infringement.

US Attorney General, Eric Holder, visited Hong Kong earlier this week speaking out against the violations. “For too long, these illegal activities have been perceived as ‘business as usual.’ But not any more,” he said.

He then made the trip to Beijing, holding talks with a number of senior Chinese officials on how to address the problem. To say it’s a big problem in China is an understatement. 

China has received criticism from around the world for being a primary hotbed for intellectual property rights abuse and counterfeit goods, an image that the Chinese want to be rid of.

The US is not exempt from the problem either. It ranks top place in terms of the commercial value of software pirated there, which amounts to a whopping $8.3 billion. China is in second place at $7.5 billion, so today’s meeting could see the two working in unison to crack down on piracy and counterfeiting.

Christian Murkc of the American Chamber of Commerce in China said that piracy is not a centralised issue, making it harder to tackle. Closing down one group does not necessarily interrupt the process, as the groups behind it often work on a global scale. Today’s visit by Holder is seen as a very positive step forward in that regard, encouraging international focus on the problem.

One contributing factor to film piracy in China is the restrictive nature of government film policies, which prohibit many foreign films from being sold there. The only option for citizens who wish to see these films is to download them illegally or buy a copy on the black market. Some people believe that if China relaxed its restrictions on foreign films it could help lower the extent of DVD piracy.

In a move that suggests China is serious about the problem and wants to be seen to be tackling it, the State Council said it would “launch a special campaign to fight intellectual property rights infringement and the manufacture and sale of counterfeit goods,” which it says have “hurt China’s image abroad”.

The campaign will last for six months and will begin at the end of October. But we feel it’s just the tip of the iceberg.