Affordable products, not penalties the key to victory

PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 April, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 03 April, 2006, 12:00am

Wang Qiuping: IPR analyst

Despite the introduction of much tougher penalties for piracy, huge consumer demand and massive profits mean counterfeiting is as rampant as ever, according

Shenzhen University professor Wang Qiuping.

She said authorities could not hope to wipe out piracy by tightening administrative controls until more affordable legitimate goods were available.

'I think China already has fulfilled its responsibility to set up a comprehensive intellectual property law to satisfy the requirements of World Trade Organisation entry. Audio and video businesses should not keep asking the government to act beyond its responsibility because that would harm the legal process,' Professor Wang, an intellectual property rights analyst, said.

'Intellectual property rights are seen as a private right and should be mostly protected by property owners.' She said the concept was historically foreign to Chinese culture and, in the absence of education about the issue, there was little awareness that infringements constituted a crime.

'China has an old phrase that says 'stealing books is not stealing'. Intellectual rights did not exist in the past and most people are still unaware of them,' she said. 'No one would buy a stolen watch but you can see counterfeit CDs and software for sale on every residential block.

The low prices are an attraction and people also rarely think it's a crime or something they should be ashamed of.'

She said that in a developing market such as China businesspeople in creative industries could not expect to charge high prices for their goods and not have their products pirated.

'It does not mean poverty is a good reason to produce and use pirated goods. But offering affordable products to consumers is a better choice and more profitable,' Professor Wang said.