BEIJING had stepped up its crackdown on copyright piracy by strengthening co-operation between three government departments, a Chinese official said yesterday. Under the ''Audio Video Products Protection Regulation'', to be issued by the State Council next month, the production, distribution and copyright supervision of cassette tapes, videos and compact discs would be dealt with by different departments, said Director of the China Copyright Society, Wu Shulin, yesterday. Mr Wu, who is leading a delegation to Hong Kong, said a committee would be set up jointly by the Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Radio, Film and TV to censor all cassettes, videos and CDs. The Press and Publication Administration would be responsible for controlling production and the National Copyright Administration would be put in charge of copyright supervision, he said. The regulation also requires the three departments to halt production of videos, cassettes and CDs in their 94 subordinate companies and factories, according to Mr Wu. Mr Wu said China had increased penalty for copyright violators in June, and offenders could face sentences of between two and seven years. Seven copyright courts had been set up in cities such as Shanghai, Guangdong, Fujian and Hainan. New allegations were received almost every day, he said. Mr Wu stressed the Government had banned the setting up of new CD production lines while existing ones had to be inspected. Four CD production lines in Zhejiang, Guangdong and Hainan had been suspended in the recent national check-up. However, Xinhua (the New China News Agency) reported the setting up of a new production line capable of making 6,000 CDs a year in Anyang city, Henan province. Four million had been invested in this production line, which is expected to end the country's dependence on imported CDs. the Xinhua report said.