China’s copyright watchdog is doubling down on its efforts to clean up pirated online content after the country’s internet population crossed the 800 million mark earlier this year. The National Copyright Administration of China (NCAC) has identified 58 major platforms – from video and music streaming to cloud storage service providers – that it will closely monitor among a list of 3,000 sites on its watch list, Yu Cike, a spokesman for the administration, said on the sidelines of the China International Copyright Expo in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, on Friday. China, long known as a haven for the distribution of unauthorised content, launched this year’s piracy crackdown in July, the fourteenth such campaign since 2005. Dubbed internet Sword 2018, the campaign has identified four key areas of content in need of special monitoring and protection – news reports, short videos, comics and audio programmes – according to a statement on the NCAC homepage. China is on track to become the world’s largest movie box office this year and the country has a huge user base for video and music streaming, with video streaming services reaching 565 million people last year, according to industry estimates. In the first quarter the Chinese box office grew 40 per cent year on year to US$3.17 billion, exceeding that of North America. The country reached about 802 million internet users as of June this year, of which 788 million access the internet via mobile devices, according to government statistics. Last year, China shut down over 2,500 sites providing pirated streaming or downloads and deleted more than 700,000 links to unauthorised content, according to Yu. The copyright watchdog reported 500 infringement cases to police for investigation, involved 100 million yuan (US$14.4 million) in claims. “The campaign can serve as an effective deterrence to internet piracy, and has improved the copyright situation among online video, music and literature markets,” NCAC said in the statement. “The online copyright situation is improving and this has been acknowledged from home and abroad.” Still, copyright infringement disputes are frequent and new technologies have increased governance challenges, it noted. Chinese internet companies like Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent have been investing heavily in digital content and entertainment, producing their own TV series and films as well as operating subscription-based video-streaming and even comics platforms as they race to carve out market share in China’s rapidly-growing consumer digital entertainment market. Globally, there were more than 300 billion visits to piracy sites in 2017, a 1.6 per cent increase from a year earlier, according to MUSO, a London-based data provider tracking infringement of digital content.