Tue, Jul 22, 2003 - Page 10 News List

Officials optimistic about future for nation's digital entertainment industry

By Jessie Ho  /  STAFF REPORTER

The government and industries yesterday vowed to promote the local digital-entertainment industry such as digital movies, animation and games, saying the sector is a profitable one, but pundits warned that improvement in copyright protection should come first.

"Taiwan absolutely has the edge to keep up with the US, Japan and South Korea in digital entertainment industry," said Chao Yung-chuan (趙永全), president of the China External Trade Development Council (CETRA) at the "2003 Digital Entertainment Industry Forum" held yesterday in Taipei.

One advantage that Taiwan has is a huge number of online users to facilitate the development of virtual entertainment businesses, Chao said.

There are 8 million households nationwide that have Internet access and 2.26 million of them are broadband Internet users, he said.

Chao predicted that the number of broadband users will rocket to 6 million by 2007.

Another edge that the digital- content sector enjoys is the constantly mounting profits generated by such products in Taiwan, Chao said. Online gaming, for example, generated NT$4.8 billion last year, up from NT$90 million in 1999 when it was first introduced into the country, he said.

Another government official is also optimistic about the digital-entertainment industry, saying the government is mulling various measures to encourage private investments in this lucrative industry.

"Production value of digital content products has exceeded NT$150 billion last year, and we hope the number will jump to NT$370 billion by 2006," Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Steve Chen (陳瑞隆) said at the forum.

He said the Ministry of Econo-mic Affairs has set up a department in charge of helping private firms.

One activity that will be held by the department is a digital-content exhibition, in which 10 companies coming up with quality products will be granted NT$1 million each, Chen said.

A business leader who attended yesterday's event said that digital content is a promising sector.

"The sector will become one of the biggest industries worldwide by 2010," said Sayling Wen (溫世仁), vice chairman of Inventec Co (英業達), the country's third-largest notebook-computer maker.

However, one pundit said the industry will not bloom in Taiwan if the government fails to protect intellectual-property rights.

"Copyright protection is especially important to this sector, because digital products can be easily duplicated or distributed via the Internet," said Hsieh Ming-yang (謝銘洋), a law professor at National Taiwan University.

"Although the recently revised Copyright Law (著作法) puts more focus on information technology products, execution is the key," Hsieh said.

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