Beijing court rules against movie pirate

MUMBAI: On 23 and 24 August, a Beijing court ruled that a pair of DVD retail outlets, the Beijing Yongsheng Century International Cultural Co., Ltd. (Beijing Yongsheng Century) and its Century En Ze branch, were guilty of copyright infringement for selling pirated versions of Motion Picture Association (MPA) member company movies.


The Beijing Xi Cheng District People’s Court ordered the defendant to pay six plaintiffs – all MPA member companies – damages and costs of $27,795.


Over the past two years, the MPA has on 17 occasions provided information about the sale of pirated movies at Beijing Yongsheng Century to Beijing law enforcement authorities including the Beijing Copyright Bureau, the Beijing Culture Task Force and the Chaoyang Police. During that time, the authorities have raided the defendant’s premises six times, and seized more than 16,000 pirated optical discs.


However, although authorities on one occasion levied a fine of $3,965 against Beijing Yongsheng Century, they have never filed criminal charges, and the outlet was open for business earlier this week, offering pirated movie DVDs to customers in a back room of the premises.


“The rulings yesterday and today against one of Beijing’s most notorious pirate retail outlets demonstrate that Chinese courts continue to be supportive of copyright holders’ efforts to vigorously defend their property. However, the MPA and our member companies continue to feel that that the court’s award represents little more than a slap on the wrist in the context of the scope of pirate activity in which Beijing Yongsheng Century and others were and are engaged. That pirated discs were available at this outlet only a few days ago underscores the contempt these criminals have for the law,” said Motion Picture Association vice president and regional counsel, Asia-Pacific Frank Rittman.


“Unquestionably one of the reasons for China‘s high movie piracy rate, estimated at 93 per cent, is the lack of market access accorded to foreign films. The theatrical exhibition quota and the restrictions on home video distributors, give movie pirates a tremendous advantage. Market access, is a prerequisite for reducing piracy and piracy affects foreign and domestic movie producers alike,” Rittman added.


The MPA and its member companies maintain active litigation programs in many countries aimed at defending member companies’ copyrights against unauthorized and illegal infringement. The MPA has concluded more than 40 civil actions in China, all of which have been all settled or judged in favor of the MPA member company plaintiffs.


In China, and many countries around the world, the MPA works closely with governments to support enforcement and education efforts, and conducts its own education and enforcement initiatives in many markets.