CHINA / National

Nation sets tough fines for Net piracy
Updated: 2006-05-30 06:30

China said Monday that it would impose fines of as much as 100,000 yuan on distributors of illegally copied music, movies and other material over the Internet, a move likely to put pressure on search engines like

Internet service providers must give the authorities contact information for owners of sites that distribute pirated material, the State Council, China's cabinet, said in a statement dated May 18 and posted on its Web site Monday. The maximum fine is the equivalent of $12,500.

Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group, EMI Group and Universal Music Group sued Baidu, the most-used search engine in China, last year for allowing free downloads of their music.

The company, based in Beijing, offers a service allowing users to find MP3 files and may be forced to cooperate with the authorities in cracking down on illegal music sites.

"Baidu will be under a lot of pressure to stop offering links to illegal MP3 files and may have to stop their MP3 search service," said Edward Yu, chief executive of the research company Analysys International, based in Beijing. The new rules could also cut the number of Baidu's users, he said.

Calls to a Baidu spokeswoman, Cynthia He, were not returned.

The government can fine individuals and companies selling equipment and technology designed to allow illegal copying, according to the rules. It can also confiscate equipment used for making and distributing pirated material.

Yu said that China had repeatedly promised to crack down on illegal copying. "China's piracy problem is an enforcement problem," he said. "There have always been piracy laws."

Wireless 'conspiracy' claim

The agency promoting a wireless encryption standard in China has accused a U.S. engineers' group of participating in a conspiracy that led the International Standards Organization to reject the Chinese system, The Associated Press reported from Beijing.

The accusation was made in China's appeal against the organization's decision in March to reject its encryption system, WAPI, in favor of the widely used 802.11i encryption standard developed by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, or IEEE, Xinhua news agency said.

China has asked the International Standards Organization to nullify its decision due to what it calls the engineer group's "unethical activities," such as allegedly conspiring against WAPI, insulting China, and using intimidation and threats, Xinhua reported, without elaborating.

"The serious violations are rare in ISO's standardization history," Xinhua quoted a statement by the official China Broadband Wireless IP Standard Group as saying.

It said the IEEE unfairly violated International Standards Organization rules and misled national agencies, causing them to reject the Chinese standard, Xinhua said.

ISO has said it will investigate the case, Xinhua reported.

Xinhua said after the ISO rejection in March that China's government would "firmly support" the Chinese standard, and the decision would not affect its decision on domestic use.


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