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China updates IPR rules, takes tougher stance on online piracy

China will step up its fight to protect intellectual property rights (IPR) by targeting online piracy, state media has said, amid calls for Beijing to do more on widespread copyright infringement.

“It is vital to protect online IPR,” Wang Ziqiang, spokesman for the National Copyright Administration, was quoted as saying by the China Daily. “If not, the traditional press, the publication industry, movies and music will face severe threats from online ‘theft’ if everyone goes online to get free material.”

Last week, Chinese authorities issued updated rules to fight piracy and protect online IPR, the report said.

The regulations state that if someone puts another person’s work online for profit without prior approval from the copyright holder, and if the transaction value is more than 50,000 yuan ($7,600), he or she will be penalised.

Penalties will also apply if the person posts more than 500 pieces of work, the number of online hits reaches 50,000, or if the number of registered users of a members-only site posting illegal content tops 1,000, it said. The report did not say how violators would be punished.

China has arrested more than 4,000 people for violating intellectual property rights since November and will enforce tougher punishments to combat the "rampant" problem, said last week Gao Feng, deputy director of the Ministry of Public Security's Economic Crimes Investigation Bureau. His agency is reported to have uncovered more than 2,000 cases since China launched a six-month campaign to beef up enforcement of intellectual property rights last November. The financial value of the cases totalled 2.3 billion yuan ($348 million).

With 450 million people online in China - the largest web population in the world - the Internet has become a major battleground in the fight against IPR violations.

Story filed 17.01.11

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