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China Slams US Piracy Complaint 346

Posted by Zonk
from the arr-break-out-the-cutlasses dept.
bingoathome writes with a link to a BBC article on China's criticism of the US over its complaint to the WTO. The Bush administration is breaking its long-standing policy of backroom conversations with Beijing to condemn the country's continued 'failure to address copyright piracy and counterfeiting.' "The US says that China's failure to enforce copyright laws is costing software, music and book publishers billions of dollars in lost sales ... The US has been threatening a WTO complaint against China since 2005. It said on Tuesday that the two cases had been submitted to the WTO. One case claims that Beijing's poor enforcement of copyright and trademark protections violates WTO rules. The other contends that illegal barriers to hamper sales of US films, music and books. "
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China Slams US Piracy Complaint

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  • by Adult film producer (866485) <van@i2pmail.org> on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @07:22AM (#18687041)
    but how much do legal copies of dvd's sell for? Or rather, how much does the riaa/mpaa want to charge chinese consumers for a DVD ? $20? Maybe it's time for the riaa/mpaa to lower prices and compete with the blackmarket.. there is still money to be made, just don't expect chinese consumers to fork over 15% of their annual income for a lousy hollywood movie.
    • by pipatron (966506) <pipatron@gmail.com> on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @07:26AM (#18687055) Homepage
      When I was there last year they seemed to charge around $5 for a legal copy, in the most expensive stores. You could buy the cheap-ass titles that nobody wants, without a hard cover, for around 50 cents at wal-mart, but I don't know if they were more legal than those sold on the streets for a similar price.
      • by drgonzo59 (747139)
        They weren't. A lot of the pirated copies in China and Russia look very convincing (no hand written titles on pieces of tissue paper), instead they are high quality reproductions of the originial artwork. The only cost the pirate needs to worry about is the cost of blank media (cents/copy), packaging (could be significant for a quality reproduction, say $1/copy), distribution (pay the person on the street who sells the stuff) + average cost of equipment and upkeep and that's about it. The rest is pure profi
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by monsted (6709)

          The only cost the pirate needs to worry about is the cost of blank media (cents/copy) [...]
          Well, they have them pressed in a proper factory using regular CD/DVD fabs. This makes it even cheaper than typical blank media.
      • by Antique Geekmeister (740220) on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @11:13AM (#18689491)
        Look again: according to my mainland Chines immigrant acquaintances, as much as 90% of the "official" game and movie DVD sales in mainland China are in fact pirated on a corporate scale. With so little threat of prosecution, and no robust identification of whare the discs were purchased from, there's just no way to control this.

        This is why Microsoft wants Vista's enhanced DRM capabilities: to cooperate with video producers, and to protect its own software from cheap duplication.
      • by digitig (1056110) on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @12:56PM (#18691233)

        I would be very surprised if you managed to find a legal copy of a DVD in China, outside of Hong Kong and Macau. I don't know what the price would actually be in China, but I do know of the situation in Russia, because a couple of weeks ago I was speaking to a member of the Russian trade delegation at an IPR conference. In Russia, a legal DVD of a current Hollywood DVD release costs about one month's average wage. It's no wonder Piracy is rife.

        That same person made the point that the world's biggest exporter of pirated DVDs, software, etc, (based on customes seizures) is the USA, but the US government doesn't seem to see that as such a big issue.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by mosb1000 (710161)
          "a legal DVD of a current Hollywood DVD release costs about one month's average wage"

          If you don't want to pay for it, don't watch it.

          "based on customes(SIC) seizures"

          Of course, not all countries take equal measures to counteract piracy, so that doesn't really mean anything.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by LadyLucky (546115)
          Well, I found heaps in Beijing for about $5. These were real DVDs. You can tell the difference because they are in the massive bookshops, they have decent subtitles and use dual-layer DVDs.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by edwardpickman (965122)
          The Russian you met was lying to you. It's a good dodge to say americans are behind it but the simple fact is most DVDs, pirate and legit, are made in south east asia. It's cheaper to make there period. The music industry used to be big into pirating as a way to screw the artists out of their royalty but this may have bit them in the ass since piracy now dwarfs legit music and they aren't the ones pirating now. The real truth is profits are dropping and the quality and quantity of what's out there to pirate
    • by Ours (596171) on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @07:30AM (#18687073)
      I don't know about China but in the countries I've been in Asia, legal DVDs and computer games come real cheap compared to Europe. It's 1/4 of the price from what we pay in Europe. But that's hardly competing with the black market which has even lower prices. Still, I'd buy more DVDs and games if they where priced like the legal stuff in south-east Asia. But with the salaries these people have, they'll never pay more then black-market prices. Besides, why would they give a damn about US/European copyright owners? It's not like we've shown much in the way of caring for the working conditions they have to suffer to sell the stuff they make for us at super cheap prices.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Illserve (56215)
        It's not like we've shown much in the way of caring for the working conditions they have to suffer to sell the stuff they make for us at super cheap prices.

        Oh please, that is a grossly unfair criticism. What exactly are we supposed to do? Declare war on China if they don't legislate improved working conditions?

        The WTO exists precisely for the purpose of arbitrating disputes of this sort. The US is following protocol for a legitimate concern.
        • by statusbar (314703) <jeffk@statusbar.com> on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @09:07AM (#18687827) Homepage Journal
          After the fiasco of the U.S.'s Canadian softwood lumber tax where the WTO ruled against the U.S. something like 5 times, I learned that the U.S. only follows WTO rulings when it suits them...

          --jeffk++
          • by Volante3192 (953645) on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @09:52AM (#18688365)
            Not to mention just recently the WTO ruled in favor of Antigua over online gaming.

            I'd love to see China come out and say, on the record, "The US has no history of agreeing to WTO decisions, why should we?"
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by operagost (62405)
              So two wrongs make a right?
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by RealGrouchy (943109)

                So two wrongs make a right?

                Look at it this way:

                The U.S. continually violates WTO rules. If other countries are also violating WTO rules (even if they are totally stupid), the U.S. will say that they're waiting for the other country to comply.

                When the other countries do comply, the U.S. *continues* to not comply. That's two wrongs right there: (1) U.S. benefitting from other countries' compliance, and (2) U.S. benefiting from U.S. noncompliance.

                The "let's make sure we're obeying the rules before we hold th

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Itchyeyes (908311)
            I would like to see any nation that has a perfectly clean trade record. Simple because the US has violated WTO rulings in other areas does not mean that China's flaunting of IP laws is now permissible. As the GP stated, this is a legitimate complaint filed through the appropriate channels. You may not agree with US trade policy, but you certainly can't paint them as in the wrong on this particular issue.
            • by darthnoodles (831210) on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @10:27AM (#18688759)

              you certainly can't paint them as in the wrong on this particular issue.

              Wrong? No.
              Hyprocrites? Yes.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by Itchyeyes (908311)
                And if this were a discussion of Canadian softwood lumber or online gambling in Antigua then that would be a legitimate point. However, in a discussion of enforcement of IP in China, the American hypocrisy in other areas of trade is a red herring. It bears no practical use in determining whether or not China should be allowed to flaunt IP laws.
                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by KDR_11k (778916)
                  Of course China shouldn't be allowed to but would you listen if you were told by an organization to stop something when the one who complained about you never heeded the organization's orders, either? China wants to build an economy that competes with the US and they've seen that one successful strategy of the US is to ignore the WTO when it pleases them. China will imitate that because they want to play by the same rules as their competition and in this case the rule is "international bodies are a way to g
          • by dave420 (699308) on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @10:45AM (#18689049)
            It's not just the WTO. The US uses these organisations when it suits them, then ignores their verdicts when brought against the US. That's one of the major reasons the world has a less-than-great view of the US - most other nations try their best to adhere to judgements and arbitration that find against them, regardless of how it will affect them. The understanding is you take the good with the bad, otherwise you just piss people off. The US seems to not give a shit, then acts all surprised when other countries get pissed off with them. Selfish foreign policy. It sounds like a rabid leftist mantra, but it's fucking accurate.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              . The US uses these organisations when it suits them, then ignores their verdicts when brought against the US
              Is it too much to ask for examples (beyond the GP's, which was ultimately decided by the WTO in favor of the US).
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            You mean this dispute [pitt.edu] in which the WTO ultimately ruled in favor of the US?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by _xeno_ (155264)

          Oh please, that is a grossly unfair criticism. What exactly are we supposed to do? Declare war on China if they don't legislate improved working conditions?

          I dunno, maybe something slightly less severe, like not making them our "preferred trading partner?" Something along the lines of refusing to trade with countries that don't have some minimum standard of working conditions?

          And, yes, I know that means we'd have to pay more for consumer goods. It's still a much less costly option than trying to invade

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Illserve (56215)
            I dunno, maybe something slightly less severe, like not making them our "preferred trading partner?" Something along the lines of refusing to trade with countries that don't have some minimum standard of working conditions?

            And, yes, I know that means we'd have to pay more for consumer goods. It's still a much less costly option than trying to invade China.


            It is not our business to run around the world ensuring that all workers are treated according to OUR standards, RIGHT NOW. All countries do things diffe
            • by cHALiTO (101461)
              All countries do things differently and for very different reasons

              You mean, like not considering IP that much of an issue? I think making -copies- (ie: different from stealing) is a lot less amoral than taking advantage (and somewhat indirectly) help maintaining bad work conditions.
              US's money muscle doesn't only reach pockets, it pushes laws abroad, gives uncaring politicians a great incentive to maintain an interest, and for that, keep the work profitable (ie: low paid). Of course it's mostly the local pol
    • by drgonzo59 (747139) on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @08:04AM (#18687251)
      I guess the fear might be that such cheap copies of hollywood crap will spill into the US and Western European markets and cut into the profits of RIAA/MPAA and friends. But then again in U.S. and Western Europe we have our broadband and Pirate Bay / BTJunkie / etc. so we can get our share of hollywood crap for $0.


      there is still money to be made, just don't expect chinese consumers to fork over 15% of their annual income for a lousy hollywood movie


      The problem, according to ??AA is that hollywood movies (all lousy at best, as you mentioned) are not necessities, in other words if the Chinese cannot afford them so be it, they shouldn't watch them. And leave it up to us, the "cultured" and "soffisticated" to pay $20 for garbage like that.


      I would actually support hollywood cracking down on those who watch their crap and don't pay. Not because I like hollywood but because I hope people will realize that crap like that is really not worth paying for and/or risking a lawsuit and instead invest their money (that $20) in something better. The same goes for Microsoft, let them go after each pirate and remotely disable all of those "suspicious" windows installs. I think the majority of people who pirate windows already realized that the quality of the product they would be getting if they would buy it "fair and square" is not worth the price, and maybe then they'll switch to a free operating system (say Ubuntu) or pay money for a quality product (OS X).

      • I guess the fear might be that such cheap copies of hollywood crap will spill into the US and Western European markets and cut into the profits of RIAA/MPAA and friends. But then again in U.S. and Western Europe we have our broadband and Pirate Bay / BTJunkie / etc. so we can get our share of hollywood crap for $0.

        They already have. I have a friend who goes to China about twice a year. He comes back with nicely produced pirated copies of movies -- these have high-quality reproductions of original cover ar

      • by badfish99 (826052) on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @09:04AM (#18687801)
        If the Chinese can't afford to pay for Hollywood movies, then "Hollywood cracking down" would cost them money for enforcement, without bringing in any income from sales. So it will never happen.

        What Hollywood want, of course, is for governments to enforce copyrights at the taxpayers expense. That doesn't cost them anything, except a little in bribes to make it happen.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by cHALiTO (101461)
          Makes me think of a discussion about game piracy I had a couple of days ago with a guy from a store downtown who imported original games. I said I like games, but they are way too expensive, so I use pirated copies. Of course he wasn't happy, but then he said he once talked to a representative from Sony about producing (pressing) games in the country instead of having to import them (shipping + taxes), and they repliead that they're not interested in the market (in Argentina).
          So, i said "well, if they're no
    • by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @09:20AM (#18687977) Homepage
      Lower prices??? are you MAD? how do we continue to pay the multi billion dollar salaries that these people RIGHTLY DESERVE for their work?

      executives for the MPAA deserve a 7 figure income they work REALLY HARD.
      Actors also deserve their 7 and 8 figure incomes, do you realize how incredibly HARD their work is?

      Cripes working in a mine or foundry is pampered panzy work compared to what an actor has to deal with daily.

      you people make me sick!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @07:26AM (#18687053)
    just like the US does, if they don't like them:
    http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/04/02/10 35210 [slashdot.org]
    • MOD Parent UP (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Don_dumb (927108) on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @07:57AM (#18687201)
      Exactly, this is another case of classic US unilateralism. The US government use the UN, WTO and other international groups to get their own way with the rest of the world but then ignore those same groups when the rest of the world has its own issues.

      I always remember when some US official was asked why the US didn't recognise the International court of Justice, he replied "because this would allow other nations to bring trials against OUR leaders". The US just doesn't get the idea of "international cooperation", you can't just use collaboration to get your own way without compromise. Perhaps it would help if the US realised that it isn't always right.
      • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @08:25AM (#18687413)
        But the world court thing is somewhat sticky because it gets in to constitutional issues. The Constitution is the highest law in the US, above even federal. It can only be changed by a 67% majority vote in congress, and then a vote from 75% of the states. Well, among other things, it guarantees citizens certain rights that the government can't take away (not that it doesn't stop them from trying from time to time). However if you say the world court has jurisdiction over US citizens, over the supreme court, then you are subjecting them to a court that doesn't recognise those rights. Not that they might not have a similar set, but the Constitution is pretty clear on this point.

        That's the real issue here, but it highlights a problem with things like a world court. It is hard to have something like a world government when the world can't agree on what kind of laws it should have. I'm going to guess China has a real different idea of what speech should be criminal than the US does. Thus it is kinda hard to have a single judicial system that both would be under.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by EzInKy (115248)

          The Constitution is the highest law in the US, above even federal. It can only be changed by a 67% majority vote in congress, and then a vote from 75% of the states.


          Actually the States can amend the Constitution without Congressional interference by holding another Constitutional Convention.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          However if you say the world court has jurisdiction over US citizens, over the supreme court, then you are subjecting them to a court that doesn't recognise those rights. Not that they might not have a similar set, but the Constitution is pretty clear on this point.

          There are a few problems with this reasoning.

          First of all, if the USA deals with USA citizens commiting war crimes or the other things the ICC deals with, then the ICC never comes into play. It only becomes a problem when the USA refuses to deal
          • by gordo3000 (785698)
            because I'm sure the Jews in Europe, Chinese or Koreans in East asia, or the ethnic Albanians in Serbia would never call for some form of court to hold people to crimes. no, it was the US because the US had so much to gain in any of those circumstances.....
            • I'm afraid your idea about history is a bit off..

              because I'm sure the Jews in Europe, Chinese or Koreans in East asia, or the ethnic Albanians in Serbia would never call for some form of court to hold people to crimes. no, it was the US because the US had so much to gain in any of those circumstances.....

              The USA and the USSR setup the Neurenburg trials, (imho rightfully) forcing those who were in charge of the Nazi regime to submit to it, eventho those people often acted in line with the laws and constituti
      • Re:MOD Parent UP (Score:5, Insightful)

        by drgonzo59 (747139) on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @08:28AM (#18687445)
        It's alright. US is already behind as far as technological progess goes. Our school systems are crap, our students math and science scores rank near the bottom of the civilized nation's scores. We have been in a stupid war for the last 5 years or so, we have overspent our money, our president is a moron and we are so scared of terrorists that we threw away democracy and freedom and put babies on the no-fly lists. Call me pessimistic and alarmist, but I see this country going downhill. It was a great country, it reached it's peak and now it is on a long an steady decline.

        I think US will be in the position to bully others only for so long. Pretty soon we might have to be the ones taking orders...

        • by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @08:46AM (#18687631)
          With bold people pushing the frontiers. When "don't ask what your country can do for you" actually meant something, when it wasn't a blurb spinned by politicians, but actually heeded by them and even the industry, too. Great men and women who wanted to push the boundaries and make the nation (or humanity as a whole) better and more advanced.

          Today, the US is what the rest of the "civilized" world is: Fat and afraid. Fat and lazy, unable and unwilling to lift a finger and not caring about tomorrow, not caring what happens to the world around them as long as they can get rich without having to do anything for it. Inventive? At best in the "how to get rich by doing nothing" department.

          And afraid that this might change.

          Btw, don't feel left out if you're not from the US. That's pretty much true for most of Europe, too. When I look around myself, all I see is fat, lazy and very frightened people.
      • by elrous0 (869638) *
        All the U.S. has to do is tell the Chinese that the pirates are pro-democracy. That will solve everything.
  • by aadvancedGIR (959466) on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @07:32AM (#18687083)
    China and other countries produce and export lots of low quality counterfeit products, including drugs and mecanical parts that can endanger consumers health but the US Gov. is only mad about copies of overpriced products (usually made in China for dirt cheap BTW) to protect the profit of a few cartels.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by delt0r (999393)

      ..export lots of low quality counterfeit products,
      Counterfeit yes. Low quality no. Many products come of the *same* production line with a slightly different logo (no serious retooling). Many "bootleg" CD's are printed from the same masters. The stuff is good. And cheaper. Also some of it is literaly stolen from the factory floor.
      • by aadvancedGIR (959466) on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @07:57AM (#18687203)
        Although what you are talking about about is a real phenomena (and a good reason not to outsource because you can't compete on either cost or quality in that case), there are also lots of workshops that produce totally fake products, usualy using materials that can barely look like the real product but are really cheap.

        If your 0.49$ screwdriver bends, it is not a disaster, if those brakes you got for a tenth of normal price with no invoice do not work after 50 miles, it can be.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by tomhudson (43916)

        Just follow the $$$.

        Ignore the counterfeits for a moment. Every year for the last 22 years, the trade deficit with china has gone up. January alone was $25.6 BILLION http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/balance/c5700 . html#2006 [census.gov], up from $21.4 billion the previous January. With those numbers, WalUSMart is looking at a $300 billion trade deficit this year, just with China.

        This could be a way for BushCheneyHalliburton to lay the groundwork for further import duties. Even a 10% across-the-board surtax would

    • by Illserve (56215)
      but the US Gov. is only mad about copies of overpriced products (usually made in China for dirt cheap BTW) to protect the profit of a few cartels

      It's likely they're upset about all of them, but this particular form of piracy has the most egregious profit ratio. There is practically zero cost in creating these counterfeits while the US industry is effectively footing the entire bill for making the product.
      • The US population is footing that bill. The industry is producing with slave labour in far east anyway, the difference is only that the revenue is staying in the far east instead of the purses of the corporations.
    • by clickety6 (141178)
      Whereas the US markets its low-quality, life-endangering cars to its own citizens ;-)
  • Odd... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @07:36AM (#18687099)
    Strangely all the DVD shops I know of in Shanghai are closed today. There's still street vendors here and there however.

    I imagine they'll be open again soon, but it shows that China cares to some extent.
  • Hmph (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tbone1 (309237) on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @07:38AM (#18687109) Homepage
    The US' argument might have carried more weight if it hadn't been authored by Joe Biden.

    Seriously, though, is this a surprise to anyone? If China will run over defenseless people with an armored personnel carrier, who would expect them to honor the property rights of people who are not from The Celestial Kingdom?

    And if the US' only economic advantage over China is in entertainment, is it surprising that they'd go after this?

    • Entertainment could be an economic advantage, but I don't really see the advantage of declaring economic warfare with the country where most of the blockbuster DVD are made. What if they forget to ship some of them on time, introduce "errors" or sell copies to the pirate scene weeks before the release date (oops, my mistake, they are already doing that last part).
  • by WaZiX (766733) on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @07:40AM (#18687117)
    They are already having one hell of a hard time fighting piracy in such a policed country as the US, how exactly do they expect China with its 1.3 billion citizens to tackle this problem?

    Also, seeing the poverty and corruption problems in China, I sure hope that they use their money to make life better for their own citizen, then maybe they can start pumping money into an impossible to achieve goal...
    • There isn't much for-profit piracy in the US. In China it is apparently widespread. Shops openly doing business in pirated goods, which is the foundation of the US WTO complaint.

      I think its all kind of ironic given how there was a lot of opposition to China joining the WTO by protectionist in the US. It may end up that the WTO is our tool to open CHina to all our awesome movies and expensive copies of Vista. And I can't think of a better thing for Linux then if China stopped pirating Windows. So go kick som
  • WTO should say (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jhines (82154) <john@jhines.org> on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @07:55AM (#18687183) Homepage
    And you the US, are gonna do WHAT about the on-line gambling issue that didn't go your way?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by erroneous (158367)
      Exactly.

      The USA's record of obeying WTO rulings that have gone against it is absolutely abysmal.

      The fact that they are running to a body that they themselves have made toothless shows that their influence over China has waned to virtually nil.

      They've been the only global superpower for close to two decades now, but China and India are very rapidly joining that group and the US is going to have to get used to much, much less going their way.
    • by *weasel (174362)
      Probably the same thing we did about the US import duties on steel.

      We'll bitch and kvetch and stall. And eventually we'll give up if they're at all serious about it.
  • LOL, I love it when the US protests against illegal trade barriers. Surely the foreign steel tariffs and more recently the Brazilian Ethanol/Biofuel tariffs do just the same...!

    And someone else posted about China running over it's own ppl in APCs. Need I mention WACO or Rodney King or how about the recent Blue on Blue incident where the US Air Force with 2 A10s blows the crap out of a British Convoy that had the correct orange markers denoting friendlies?

    All this proves though is that we can both relate co
    • by ohearn (969704)
      You bring up a good point whether you meant to or not. The US can easily recover a lot of the lost money and do wonders to even out the trade deficit by just putting a tarriff on all goods coming in from China. Of course I'm sure that the major retailers like Walmart would pull in every favor they had to stop such a thing.
    • by Quila (201335)

      LOL, I love it when the US protests against illegal trade barriers. Surely the foreign steel tariffs and more recently the Brazilian Ethanol/Biofuel tariffs do just the same...!

      These issues are already WTO complaints. People already have complaints against us, we already have complaints against others. We're just finally making a complaint against China because years of asking them nicely haven't worked.

      Need I mention WACO or Rodney King or how about the recent Blue on Blue incident where the US Air Force w

  • by DuncanE (35734) * on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @08:09AM (#18687279) Homepage
    I'm going to raise something which will probably be greeted with blank stares...

    What about Chinas IP/Cultural penetration in the US? Where's the Chinese equivalent of Britney? What about the Chinese authors in the NY times best sellers list? They account for a large proportion of the world population.

    Perhaps China feels that the Cartel media structures of the US are not fairly promoting foreign IP and art?

    • I'm not sure that China (Or other neighbouring Asian countries) really think too much about American market penetration. The Chinese equivalent of Spears is alive and well right here in Asia with an audience numbering somewhere around the billion mark.
    • Huh?

      It's not America's job to produce Chinese art. Nor does it make any sense.

      America should produce the art it wants to produce and China should either pay for it or not. But if not, the alternative is not to steal.
    • Foreign countries have to overcome a person's preference for entertainment from within their own culture as elements of the entertainment tend to get lost in translation. It just so happens, partly due to American's wealth that our entertainment business generates more revenue than most small countries. This means we spend a lot more money on production on average too. This is why you are far more likely to see an American television show played in a foreign country than the other way around. It's very
      • Alternatively, entertainment producer in the US, do produce for the "lowest common" denominator possible, and thus can sell in many country of various culture and still be accepted. In other word, they sell outside because there is "not much brainpower" really left in such entertainment. Mind you it does not seem to work for all country and culture.
        • But if it was that easy, then every entertainment business around the world would be cashing in on the "American media model". I think the formula for media success is far more intriciate than that.
  • by bradavon (1066358) on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @08:10AM (#18687289)
    Piracy is such a way of life in some Asian countries that sellers blatantly sell copied DVDs and CDs on the streets without any perceived concern they could be arrested. The police completely turn a blind eye. In Thailand and Malaysia it's so blatant it's ridiculous. They even have many DVDs you cannot even buy in the respective country due to not being released or even banned, films banned or censored by the Thai censors are regularly available completely uncut. The sellers do nothing to even hide what they're doing. This barely happens period in Europe or North America, why? Because the police actually crack down, close down and prosecute bootleggers. You may see the odd market seller but that's it. Interestingly Japan has created an expensive limited edition culture that you'd think would help piracy but instead people prefer to own official merchandise.

    • They even have many DVDs you cannot even buy in the respective country due to not being released or even banned, films banned or censored...


      Since censorship and withholding information are bad making these DVDs available has to be a good thing.
      • by samuraiz (1026486) on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @09:23AM (#18688015)

        Since censorship and withholding information are bad making these DVDs available has to be a good thing.
        YES! This is the precise point I came to this thread to make.

        Let me tell you what is playing in Beijing cinemas right now: Flyboys, Sixteen Blocks, A Night at the Museum, Eragon, and probably a Hong Kong flick or two.

        Not to pass judgment on any of these movies in particular. I enjoyed a couple of them, myself. But do you see the pattern? These are the most popcorn, inconsequential, and super-commercial of Hollywood's output. There isn't a challenging, thought-provoking moment among them. It was a national event when we got Casino Royale, "uncut!" (Those might have been projection glitches, but I have my doubts.)

        I mention this because movies are only approved for legal DVD sale if they can pass the censorship to make it into theaters in the first place. The studios are full of shit when they claim that they're losing money, because there are no legal DVDs worth buying in the first place. The legal movies are pretty cheap, they have decent Chinese subtitles, and they're certainly easier to get than the pirated stock. People aren't buying for the same reason ticket revenues are down in the States: the movies suck.

        Do you want to see the award-winning art movie that everybody on the internet is talking about? If you're in China, you have to buy it off the street or in a hidden back room. If a Chinese person wants to see a piece of provocative film art about their own country, they have to buy a pirated copy. Even the better popcorn fare is banned: we didn't get Dead Man's Chest because the yarr matey pirates are a bad moral example to the tender, innocent Chinese public.

        I work in the Chinese film industry, making domestic commercial movies. We probably lose money to movie piracy (although it was virtually impossible to find an illicit copy of Curse of the Golden Flower- which shattered Chinese BO records). But part of the job description at the office is to stay on top of international trends. There are only two ways to do that: piracy in the office, or massive travel budgets to send the whole office to Hong Kong every couple of weeks- which we can't do either, because the Chinese citizens in the office aren't free to travel there unrestricted.

        I know it's too much to ask for principled international leadership from my mother country, but if the United States government would pull their heads out of the MPAA's ass for one minute, I might hope that they would see that piracy isn't what's killing Hollywood's profits in China- the State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television is. And they're keeping the domestic industry at a third-world level while they're at it.

        How about some WTO threats about that?

        (Also, while I'm dreaming, if they could apply some pressure to make the Chinese fish less lead than fish and the air more air than choking soot, that would be fantastic.

        Why do I live here, again?)
  • WWIII wont about oil or religion, it will be about copyright infringement
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @08:56AM (#18687707)
    Looking at the import/export bill, if they gave any leeway to the counterfeiters would be a desaster. Let's look at the import/export bill.

    Agriculture? Well, the US has a lot of agriculture, no doubt. Still, it is highly dependent on imports and the exports don't mean a lot (especially with lots of them going to countries that won't ever pay).

    Industry? Well, considering that it's way cheaper to produce in the far east, and with Japan and the other Tigers pretty much owning the high tech market (let's shroud the car industry in silence, to protect the guilty), it's not really a big source of foreign money.

    Resources? Ever looked at that oil bill alone?

    So what's left for exports from the US? Simple: Services and "virtual goods" (IP, content, information, entertainment).

    Now, exporting services has a simple problem: You can't ship a haircut around the world. People have to come to your country with their money and spend it there. And if I look at the immigration requirements (even if I promise that I really, really wanna leave again, I wouldn't want to stay there longer than I have to, honestly, I have my ticket here...), I can understand that fewer and fewer people actually want to spend a vacation in a country where the gamble (whether you actually see more of it than a prison cell 'cause you remind someone of someone else) already starts at the airport.

    So what's left is virtual property. Content and so on. That's still where the US shines. Movies and music is still a strong export article of the US. Computer programs (Windoze, anyone?), intellectual property and patents held by US corporations...

    Imagine what the foreign trade balance would look like if the US backed off here.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @09:02AM (#18687781)
    Pretty sad that our biggest beef with China trade-wise is over the profits of the entertainment industry rather than the human rights and pollution issues of their industries that want to sell products here.
  • George Bush's, "How to win friends and influence people."
  • If China did any slamming, I bet it was the most polite ever done, with many a "please" and "thank you", and lots of curtsying. Is this title maybe a reflection of the author's own people skills? ^^

  • Priorities (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DCheesi (150068) on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @10:57AM (#18689233) Homepage
    US response to China's widespread human rights violations, sweatshop labor conditions, and suppression of dissent: *chirp* *chirp*

    US response to China's half-hearted enforcement of US Big Media copyrights: OMG! WTF?!! We must complain and protest most vigorously!!!111oneone!
  • by shadowspar (59136) on Wednesday April 11, 2007 @11:17AM (#18689551) Homepage

    One thing that was glossed over quite a bit in the article from the Beeb is that the US is actually launching two WTO complaints about China. The CBC article [www.cbc.ca] says

    On Monday, the U.S. government said it would file two WTO cases contending that Beijing's lax enforcement of trademark and copyright rules violates WTO rules and that China is unfairly blocking sales of U.S. movies, music and books.

    It figures -- first they complain that the Chinese aren't selling enough US movies, music, and books. Then when they find a way to start selling them by the truckload, the US complains about that too. =)

Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurence of the improbable. - H. L. Mencken

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