China insists that despite recent decisions, like its move
all U.S. movie imports, it remains firmly against piracy of copyrighted
China's top officials say that the increased
internet usage, not an intentionally lax legal atmosphere, are responsible
for making the country likely the world's largest nation in terms of not only
population but also pirated copyrighted materials. These same officials
suggest the adoption of harsher punishments to discourage pirates.
Yan Xiaohong, deputy head of the National Copyright
Administration, says cases in 2007 of piracy of copyrighted material more than
doubled by government statistics due to an explosion
of new technology and usage. This made for difficulties in regulating
internet traffic. He acknowledged at a press conference that
preliminary punishment methods had failed to strike a decisive blow, stating, "Although our rectification campaigns have had obvious initial
results, we must clearly recognise that there has been no sea change for the
better in our nation's Internet copyright protection environment."
He stated that he firmly believes harsher financial penalties and harsher
sentences need to be developed. He states, "As the situation is so serious we ought to give out heavier
fines under the legal framework."
With 210 million internet users, China was second only to the U.S. in online
population in 2007. China's Xinhua news agency quoted industry sources stating
that the nation will likely become the largest online population early in 2008.
Despite suffering from severe
piracy, China does do a remarkable job regulating
websites it feels inspire dissent. A "Great
Red Firewall" blocks users from such sites and alerts authorities of
access attempts. China plans to keep these efforts in place.
"We will put whatever police forces are needed
into this," Deputy head of the Public Security
Bureau's economic crimes division Gao Feng said, referring to internet
"cleansing" plans for 2008, without further elaboration.
Sometimes the piracy and subversive materials boundaries overlap, for example
in the case of Hong Kong and Taiwanese TV shows, which are among the most
popular pirated items, but also are banned from national television by the
In an effort to curb rampant pornography viewing, China announced plans last
month to only allow video content through sites which obtain state-issued
licenses. However, it has since offered virtually no details on this
licensing, leaving many to wonder if it is even going to happen at all.
Chen Jiachun, vice-director of the Ministry of Information
Industry's Telecom Management Bureau would only say, "We will choose an appropriate way to respond to questions
from the media or society. It will be very soon."
China's responses both illustrate an awareness about piracy, the reach of the
internet, and also confusion about how to deal with it. This is something which
troubles internet giants like Google,
Yahoo, and Yahoo who depend on Chinese traffic and video content views.