After hundreds of websites offering free movie and music downloads were shut down, China's State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) said over the weekend that the sites will have to solve the "copyright problem" if they want to reopen.
"In recent years, some websites publicly spread a large number of pirated films, TV dramas and other programs. Some of these programs contain lewd content. Such behaviors severely harmed young people's health and copyright owners' interests," Xinhua News Agency quoted an unidentified official with SARFT as saying on Saturday.
The official said that regulating online audio and video services is a "long-term task", and as long as these websites do not solve the problem of copyright, they will not be allowed to reopen.
SARFT officials said the closed websites did not have licenses issued by the administration. Statistics show that currently more than 530 BitTorrent (BT) websites have been closed, including the major download search engine BTChina.net.
Li Yongqiang of multi-media software firm Baofeng said the government's crackdown would promote the common sense of normative operation among Chinese websites and was a step forward to solving problems such as piracy and online porn.
However, as many netizens expressed support for the activity, others pointed out that licensed websites should not blame everything on unlicensed sites. Netizen "Yanshan Tanke" said licensed sites should expand their resources and offer more convenient services with high connection speed and reasonable prices.
According to SARFT, the administration will continue the crackdown while further regulating licensing.
The shutdown of BT websites, however, has prompted an increasing number of people to buy pirated DVDs.
"When they buy DVDs from me, almost everyone talks about being worried that the free movie downloads would disappear," a peddler surnamed Wang told China Daily near Fuchengmen subway station yesterday.
Xinhua contributed to the story