Hollywood film companies win lawsuit against Beijing firm

Updated: 2007-09-04 15:05

BEIJING - Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. and five other Hollywood film studios have been awarded a total of 192,000 yuan (US$24,600) in compensation from a Beijing company that sold pirated copies of their films, a Chinese court has ruled.

The six Hollywood movie companies filed a copyright lawsuit in March, saying Beijing Yongsheng Century International Cultural Development Co was selling pirated films including "Lord of the Rings" and "The Day After Tomorrow".

They demanded the Beijing company to immediately stop selling the pirated DVDs, pay a compensation and make an open apology.

The case was heard at Beijing Xicheng District People's Court.

The court ruled the Beijing firm shall be held responsible for infringement of the Hollywood studios' copyrights, but rejected their demand for an apology, saying the damage was limited to their property rights, a spokesman with the court said.

Pirated films are available at Chinese DVD shops and with roadside peddlers.

China has intensified the crackdown on pirated DVDs and other illegal publications, and plans to bring about fundamental changes to the situation this year, according to a circular jointly issued by six government departments, including the public security and culture ministries.

China confiscated around 110 million illegal CDs and DVDs in 2006, according to the Ministry of Culture.

From 1994 to 2005, China confiscated 1.5 billion illegal publications, including pirated discs and pornographic DVDs. More than 40,000 illegal printing houses and 221 production lines were closed down.

The Supreme People's Court issued a new judicial interpretation earlier this year to lower the threshold for prosecuting manufacturers and vendors of counterfeit intellectual property products.

It said anyone who manufactured 500 or more counterfeit copies (discs) of computer software, music, movies, TV shows and other audio-video products could be prosecuted and faced a prison term of up to three years.

They replaced the 2004 rules whose net only extended to those who produced more than 1,000 pirated discs.

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