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Thu, Sep 14, 2006 - Page 10 News List

Filmmakers sue Chinese firm in landmark IP case


Five major US motion picture companies are seeking 2.5 million yuan (US$312,000) in damages from a Beijing company that allegedly sold pirated copies of their movies, state press said yesterday.

Twentieth Century Fox, Disney, Paramount Pictures, Universal Studios and Columbia Pictures have filed a joint suit at a Beijing intermediate court in a rare legal case aimed at curbing the rampant pirating of Western films in China, the China Daily reported.

The defendant is the Beijing Shiji Haihong Commerce and Trade Co and its subsidiary video shops that have been accused of selling the pirated films, the report said.

The films named in the case include The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Mr and Mrs Smith, War of the Worlds, The Incredibles and Bewitched.

According to Wang Bing (王兵), an intellectual property rights law expert at Tsinghua University, the legal action reflects a shift in the way overseas film companies seek to protect their rights in China, the paper said.

Previously they filed complaints with the government in what was seen as an effort to avoid lengthy trials and low compensation from courts, he said.

China produces some 70 percent of the world's counterfeit goods, according to experts, with pirated music and video discs and all manner of fake brand-named products widely available.

About 45 percent of the media publications bought by Chinese consumers last year -- including books, films, music CDs and software -- were pirated, state press said last month, citing a survey by the China Publication Science Institute.

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