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Internet a 'big killer' of copyright security

Updated: 2012-04-18 10:15

By Cao Yin (China Daily)

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More than 60 percent of intellectual property cases heard in Beijing's courts last year were copyright-related and relevant infringements mainly happened through the Internet, said a judge from a municipal intermediate people's court.

The city's courts heard 9,653 intellectual property cases last year, 6,105 of which were related to copyright infringements, Jiang Ying, judge of the Beijing No 1 Intermediate People's Court, told China Daily.

Intellectual property rights are composed of copyright, patent and trademark, "but disputes about the latter two have not been very common in China up to now, since they are too professional and need a more developed commercial environment", she said.

In the past five years, 40,866 intellectual property disputes were tried in the city and 20,653 touched upon copyright infringements, according to the Beijing High People's Court.

Meanwhile, about 80 percent of those copyright cases were related to the Internet, Jiang said.

In 2009, Microsoft Corp sued Beijing-based Sichuang Weilai Technology, claiming the latter infringed the copyright of Microsoft's Windows XP and Office 2003 software.

Jiang was responsible for the case. She found that the technology company installed the software into buyers' computers without Microsoft's permission.

"If the technology company's violation continued and more installed computers entered the market, the big software tycoon would suffer more economic losses," she said.

Considering the potential risks, Jiang decided to stop the infringement through confiscating computers sold by Sichuang Weilai Technology. In this way, Microsoft's software received the best copyright protection, which also improved the reputation of China's intellectual property legal industry.

"Copyright violations happen everywhere. A book, a song, a film or even a piece of a message can become the target. But no matter what the infringement is, the copyright is equally important," she added.

The Internet has become the biggest "killer" to copyright protection, said Bei Zhicheng, an executive of the Writers' Rights Protection Union, an organization established in July to safeguard Chinese writers' copyrights online.

In September, nine Chinese writers, including Han Han and Li Chengpeng, sued Apple in a Beijing intermediate court for violating their copyrights and demanded 12 million yuan ($1.9 million) in compensation.

The court accepted the case at the beginning of the year and it is still under way.

"The infringement cost online is smaller than traditional ways. The download speed of illegal e-books is fast and the amounts are big, which has damaged writers' interests," Bei said.

What's worse, the expense of keeping the copyright is much higher than the settlements that victims receive, according to current regulations. "While the case also costs residents more time and energy," he said.

Yu Guofu, a lawyer specializing in copyright cases from Shengfeng Law Firm, said more awareness of copyright laws is important for the general public, in addition to innovators and relevant companies.

"Now, everyone can be a media outlet. Their blogs, micro blogs and online words can become works through the Internet," he said.

"In these circumstances, people should be aware of their behaviors online, because their copyrights may be infringed by other netizens and they can also be violators at any time," he added.