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Crackdown hits pirated TV series

[ 2010-11-24 13:03]     字号 [] [] []  
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On Monday evening, Wei Min, a 25-year-old white-collar worker in Beijing, turned on her computer as usual for a date with her favorite United States TV series Rizzoli and Isles, but she found it was no longer available on China's major video websites such as tudou.com and youku.com.

The websites had stopped updating other popular US TV series and a Korean drama as well as Rizzoli and Isles.

"I'm downloading the TV series on other websites in case they'll be all gone," Wei said.

The country's TV industry watchdog, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, issued a notice on Nov 12 that it planned to stop piracy of films and TV programs on the Internet.

However, it is not the first time the industry watchdog has published similar regulations. In December 2007, a similar notice was issued, requiring Internet episodes to be licensed. The notice was reissued in April 2009.

With the boom in US and Korean TV series in recent years, Chinese video websites provide almost real time play on hot episodes. But many videos are not authorized by either the copyright owner or the State administration, which is in charge of importing overseas screen and video products to China.

Huang Hua, a copyright expert with the Beijing-based Wowa Media Company, said the playing of unauthorized TV programs online is not a new problem in China.

He said that when China joined the World Trade Organization, there were no legally binding rules between China and other countries on the protection of overseas copyright. Therefore, when such infringements occurred, no penalty could be imposed.

That is believed to be the reason why Wei could still find free resources online.

Some people have claimed most of the TV series available on Chinese websites were for language study rather than commercial entertainment, and this meant they did not infringe overseas copyright.

But Wang Qian, a professor with the intellectual property school at East China University of Political Science and Law, said: "If a pirated DVD vendor sticks on a note that says: 'I don't take legal responsibility for illegal selling' on his DVD, will the judiciary establish his innocence?"

A publicity officer with PPS.tv, one of the biggest online video program suppliers in China, which still offers free viewing of some overseas TV series without authorized copyright, refused on Tuesday to comment on the State administration's regulation.

On the other hand, sina.com, a major website in China, said all its video clips are copyright authorized.

Wang said obtaining authorized copyright from overseas owners is not difficult. "Many overseas film and TV series producers have agencies in China, and it's not that hard to reach them," he said.

"Being unaware of the rate of copyright payment is not an excuse for infringing copyright," he said.


(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Crackdown hits pirated TV series

Crackdown hits pirated TV series

Todd Balazovic is a reporter for the Metro Section of China Daily. Born in Mineapolis Minnesota in the US, he graduated from Central Michigan University and has worked for the China Daily for one year.