Fri, Feb 04, 2005 - Page 11 News List

Anti-piracy drive targets retail shops

FINANCIAL LOSSESA movie industry group is working with local law enforcement to crack down on shops who rent or sell illegal products

By Jessie Ho  /  STAFF REPORTER

Citing significant financial losses due to piracy, copyright holders' groups yesterday announced a series of operations targeting rental video shops who illegally rent or sell pirated products.

"We know that Taiwan's government is firmly committed to crack down on piracy, but it does still exist here," Frank Rittman, vice president of the Motion Picture Association's Asia Pacific region, said at a press conference yesterday in Taipei.

The raids -- launched by the MPA and its local arm, the Foundation for the Protection of Film and Video Works in conjunction with local law enforcement -- began last month and will proceed throughout the year.

Within that short period of time, the operations have netted over 68,000 pirated CDs and DVDs and more than 50 optical disc burners, and led to the arrest of 12 individuals involved in unauthorized manufacturing activities, according to the association's statistics.

Rittman said Taiwan has made progress in protecting intellectual property rights, as evidenced by the Office of the US Trade Representative's (USTR) removal of Taiwan from the "Special 301" Priority Watch List to the less stringent Watch List last month. The USTR had put Taiwan on the priority watch list for four consecutive years, until then.

The nation's legislature passed new amendments to the Copyright Law (著作權法) in August last year, which stipulate that without authorization from copyright holders, users are not allowed to decode encrypted CDs, DVDs and video and audio files from the Internet. Violators will be sentenced to up to a year in prison or fined between NT$20,000 to NT$250,000.

But there is still work to do, Rittman said yesterday.

The association further released a report on anti-piracy actions in the region last year, showing that there were over 50 million pirated VCDs, DVDs and CDs seized, and 3,156 burners confiscated, mainly from China, Hong Kong and Malaysia. The estimated loss from such piracy was US$896 million in potential revenue, the report said.

Globally, illegal burning activities have cost the movie industry US$3.5 billion per year, an amount that doesn't include online piracy, Rittman added.

In Taiwan, a total of 1,775 optical disc burners were seized in the operations, which represented 56 percent of total MPA seizures in the Asia-Pacific region last year, the association said.

The results show that piracy by burning is a problem in the region, and that criminal activity has shifted from mass production in factories to burn-to-order operations run out of residences, making the investigations even harder, Rittman said.

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