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Pop stars to sing out against pirate music
By Cui Ning (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-02-15 01:03

Top entertainers from across China will take part in a concert later this month to promote the fight against fake goods.

More than 100 stars, including 20 from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, have been invited to take part in the event, being sponsored by the Chinese Government, in Beijing on February 26.

"This is the first time the central government has held such an event to protect intellectual property rights (IPR)," said Liu Jie, deputy director of the copyright department of the National Copyright Administration.

"The concert is designed to raise anti-piracy awareness among the general public, especially music fans," Liu added.

Luo Wei, concert director, said the main stage will be made to look like a huge CD.

Tickets for the concert will cost between 100 and 1,000 yuan (US$12 to US$120), organizers said, with all proceeds going into a national anti-piracy fund set aside by the China Audio-Video Association for their on-going effort to root out piracy.

News of the concert follows a new nationwide fight against piracy that began at the end of last year when the Supreme People's Court lowered the legal threshold needed to convict IPR infringers and instituted harsher penalties.

Statistics indicate the country seized more than 154 million illegal audio-video products in 2004, the most in any single year in the past two decades.

This year, nearly 400,000 enforcement officials across the country will be called on to further slash copyright infringement activities, said Zhang Zhigang, vice-minister of commerce.

Addressing a recent conference on IPR in Beijing, Zhang said that Beijing and Shanghai municipalities and another 13 provinces will be the main target areas because they have had the most copyright violations in recent years.

Zhang, who is also director of the Office for the National IPR Protection Working Group, called on regional industrial and commercial administrations to listen to the opinions of both domestic and foreign companies in China to better learn their demands for IPR protection.

Wang Ziqiang, an official with the National Copyright Administration, said China has incorporated copyright protection into many sectors, including film and television, and advertising over the past two decades.

"However, copyright violations are still serious in some regions due to the public's weak awareness of IPR protection," Wang said, "Fighting against copyright infringement is a long and unremitting task."

Domestic companies should take note of IPR issues, according to Li Shunde, a senior professor with the IPR Centre at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Li said domestic companies should safeguard their own intellectual property rights.

Sources from the State Intellectual Property Office said some domestic companies, the Beijing Jinying Aige Decorative Materials Co Ltd for example, have performed well in protecting their own intellectual property rights.

Jiang Zhipei, chief judge of the IPR Tribunal at the Supreme Peoples' Court, said IPR cases, especially trademark and copyright violations, have become more complicated in the past two years as violators usually team up with smugglers, making it more difficulties to catch them.

US Chamber of Commerce

Disputes over alleged IPR violations in China have affected the country's relations with many Western countries.

The US Chamber of Commerce has reportedly asked the US Government to begin World Trade Organization talks on China's enforcement record for counterfeiting and piracy.

The chamber said it has also asked the US Trade Representative's office to list China as a priority watch country, something which could eventually lead to trade sanctions.

Commenting on the news, Li Shunde said the US Government annually criticized China's attempts to crack down on piracy.

Although China does have problems in this area, "the US does so because of its own interests, and its allegations about China's IPR protection are not completely correct," he said.

(China Daily 02/15/2005 page1)

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