Consumers will escape anti-piracy watchdog's crackdown

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 May, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 16 May, 2005, 12:00am

Authorities do not plan to target individual consumers who violate intellectual property rights (IPR), a senior official in charge of anti- piracy efforts indicated yesterday.

But National Copyright Administration deputy director Yan Xiaohong vowed on a CCTV programme to crack down hard on manufacturers of pirated goods.

Mr Yan was speaking on a talk show that covered a range of subjects related to the government's IPR protection measures being implemented by the 600-strong anti-piracy force.

Asked if the government planned to crack down on users of pirated software and individual consumers, Mr Yan said: 'For individual consumers, I think the main way [to curb copyright violations] is through [strengthening] ethics and self-discipline. That is to say, people should eventually be made to feel guilty for buying pirated goods.'

Mr Yan cited a reduction in the number of people travelling on Beijing's buses without paying, and implied piracy would have the same fate. 'I think it's all related to an improvement in our living standards and changes in our ethics and values.'

He said the focus of the watchdog's work in the short term would be on the manufacturers of pirated goods. In the future, however, the focus would also include organisations using copied products.

In addition to declaring open season on attempts to ship pirated goods through customs officials, underground manufacturing bases and 'retail' sales gangs, IPR administrators revealed that vendors of pirated goods were also squarely in their sights.

Mobile vendors had become a serious headache for the Beijing Municipal Commission of Copyright, deputy director Wang Yefei admitted on the talk show.

Mr Yan said China's IPR efforts had to be effective and send the right signal to the rest of the world.

'IPR protection is not solely aimed at protecting foreigners' interests,' he said. 'The principal issue is that we are sending a signal that this country respects intellectual property rights, and that's an important message for economical and social development.'

He also warned of the dangers of not ensuring the protection of IPR.

'We could choose to not have a market economy and not enter the World Trade Organisation, but others could choose not to come here to invest, import their technology and offer their co-operation,' Mr Yan said.

Zhang Yongyi, deputy director of the Beijing Lawyers Association's IPR commission, agreed that it was unrealistic to punish individual users of pirated products. 'But consumers should realise they will be the final victims as piracy ruins a nation's technological development,' he said.