New piracy laws come into force in China

August 2006

Internet, record labels

Sony BMG and Warners are among record labels that may use a newly enacted criminal law to fight against Chinese Web sites, including Yahoo China, that allegedly infringe copyright laws according to the International Federation of Phonographic Industries. The new law, effective from July 1 st allows for fines for distributors of illegally copied music, movies and other material over the Internet of up to 100,000 yuan ($12,500). About 90% of all recordings in China are illegal, with sales of pirated music worth about $400 million annually, according to the IFPI. The U.S. has threatened to file a case to the World Trade Organization unless China reduces incidents of intellectual property violation. Last year seven record labels filed a civil case against, China’s most-used search engine. No outcome has been reached yet. In 2005 Baidu lost a civil case brought by Shanghai Bu-sheng Music Culture Media, the local distributor for EMI. Baidu is appealing the case. The new criminal law adopted by the State Council, China’s Cabinet, on May 18 stipulates that a Web site is jointly liable for infringement ”if it knows or should know that the work, performance or sound or video recording linked to was infringing.”

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