The People’s Republic of China has long been a land of opportunity for copyright infringers. On Web sites such as Youku.com, unlicensed Western TV shows and Hollywood flicks are plentiful and free to all comers. But with the Olympics set to start in Beijing in August, Chinese officials vow to crack down on video piracy on the Net. At a May gathering in Beijing, government officials warned executives from video sites to keep their hands off Olympic coverage or risk being shut down.
OK, this is excellent sentiment. A good, strong show of force is needed in the IP enforcement arena. So what’s wrong with all of this?
If the government is successful in mounting an anti-piracy campaign against Olympics coverage online, it might raise a lot of questions that will be difficult to answer, such as:
1. Why can’t other pirated online content be similarly dealt with all the time?
2. Were additional resources made available for the Olympics IP enforcement efforts, or was this done with existing resources?
3. If the answer to #2 was "additional resources", then why can’t these be made available to the police on a full-time basis?
4. If the answer to #2 was "existing resources", then why can’t these folks be that effective on a full-time basis?
I think you see where I’m going with this. If a successful Olympics campaign works, it might help to show that general IP enforcement with respect to online content can be better. If this pushes the government to increase enforcement budgets, then I’m all for it. However, if things go back to "normal" after the Games, a lot of people are going to bitch and complain vociferously.