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Tue, Jul 15, 2003 - Page 12 News List

US film studios take alleged pirates in China to court

AFP , SHANGHAI

Three major US film studios have filed suit against three Chinese companies alleging copyright violations through the sale of pirated video discs, state press reported yesterday.

In the first action of its kind in Shanghai, Fox Entertainment's Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp, Walt Disney Co and French-owned Vivendi Universal's Universal Studios are seeking a public apology, compensation and a halt to the alleged violations, the Shanghai Daily reported.

The case was heard last week by Shanghai No.2 Intermediate People's Court, the report said.

Yang Jun, a lawyer representing all three companies, told the paper that the plaintiffs had sent staff to the outlets of the three defendants and bought pirated VCDs and DVDs.

"With China's entry to the World Trade Organization, the protection of intellectual property rights must be enhanced," Yang was quoted as saying.

"If piracy is not properly combated, it could hamper the further introduction of good films from abroad and influence the development of the market," Yang said.

Fox is suing Shanghai Hezhong Enterprise Development Co for allegedly selling pirated copies of the fourth series of the television series X Files and is seeking 220,000 yuan (US$26,800) in compensation.

The company is also suing Shanghai Yatu Film Culture for allegedly selling pirated copies of the same title and of Speed 2, demanding 415,000 yuan (US$50,600) in compensation, the report said.

Shanghai Husheng Audio-Visual Co is also in its sights for allegedly selling fake copies of the fourth series of X-Files, and the films Courage Under Fire and Moulin Rouge. Fox wants 615,000 yuan (US$75,000) compensation.

Disney filed its suit against Yatu over alleged pirated copies of A Bug's Life and Dinosaur and is demanding similar compensation.

Meanwhile, Universal has sued Husheng for allegedly selling pirated copies of The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park III It has also sued Hezhong over The Bone Collector and Jurassic Park III.

Chinese law currently allows foreign film companies to seek a maximum 500,000 yuan (US$61,000) in compensation for each title if they are unable to provide exact details on losses or the counterfeiters' profit.

The newspaper cited court officials as saying that both plaintiffs and defendants have agreed to mediation, although there has been no discussion of money.

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