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US Motion Picture Association files suits against retail pirates in China

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MUMBAI: The Motion Picture Association (MPA) in the US has announced that its member companies had filed civil suits against the operators of two pirate retail outlets in Beijing, China.

They are seeking damages of RMB 60,000 per infringed title, as well as legal costs and a pledge to cease and desist from all illegal sales of pirated movies.

The actions against the companies operating the Feng He Ri Li and Yu Hao Qing retail outlets, both located in Beijing’s central business district, are being heard by the Beijing 1st Intermediate People’s Court and Beijing 2nd Intermediate People’s Court respectively.

Both Feng He Ri Li and Yu Hao Qing have in the past been raided by the Beijing Copyright Bureau and Beijing and Chaoyang District Police. In May Chaoyang District Police seized 13,000 pirated DVDs from Feng He Ri Li. The MPA and its member companies maintain active litigation programmes in many countries aimed at defending member companies’ copyrights against unauthorised and illegal infringement. During 2002 and 2003 MPA initiated 10 civil cases against manufacturing and retail sales operations in China. Those cases were all settled or judged in favor of the member company plaintiffs.

MPA senior VP and regional director Mike Ellis, says, “These actions demonstrate that copyright holders can and will vigorously defend their property, and that there is a price to pay for copyright infringement.

“In China, the MPA is active in the support of government enforcement and education efforts. However, unquestionably one of the foundations of China's piracy problems – and the piracy rate for motion pictures in China is estimated at 93 per cent – is the lack of market access accorded to foreign films.

"The maintenance of the theatrical exhibition quota, combined with the frequent imposition of blackouts on the theatrical release of foreign films, and the restrictions on home video distributors compared with pirate retailers, give movie pirates a tremendous market advantage. Market access, i.e. a more open market, is a prerequisite for reducing piracy, and piracy affects foreign and domestic movie producers alike.”

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.

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