Arrgh! Ready for Another Anti-Piracy Campaign?

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Yes, it’s on the way in a few short days. For all you IP groupies out there, it’s party time:

The Chinese government is starting a new campaign to fight the free flow of counterfeit and pirated software and DVDs, according to the country’s official news service.

Citing comments made at a State Council meeting at which Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao presided, the Xinhua News Agency reported this week that the goal is to clamp down on both the import and export of phony software, DVDs, publications, and other products that violate trademarks and patents.

Scheduled to start the end of October, the campaign will run for six months and will also target Internet piracy and fake goods sold online. The news report said the government would “mete out stern punishment to businesses involved in the import and export of such goods.” To launch the new initiative, Chinese government agencies have been ordered to use only authorized software, said Xinhua.

Hmm. Sounds familiar. I think I’ve seen this one before.

By the way, why are government agencies being ordered to only use authorized software? Wasn’t this already done years ago as part of a very public campaign pushed through after intensive lobbying by the U.S. government and Microsoft/BSA? What happened, did we have some slippage here, and the agencies need a reminder?

What does this tell us about the robust nature of government directives? Apparently they have a limited shelf life.

OK, before you get the wrong idea, I’m all in favor of the new campaign’s purpose: stopping IP infringement. I’m just anti-campaigns. I much prefer long-term, effective policies backed by sufficient administrative resources that are budgeted on an annual basis and not yanked away when some other pet project comes along.

I also question the focus of this campaign:

The crackdown will focus on the publishing, culture and entertainment, high-tech and agricultural industries, the statement said.

It will target production of fake goods at the source, strengthen market regulation, and increase protection of intellectual property rights in the import and export sectors and on the Internet, it added.

Authorities have also been asked to strengthen awareness of copyright infringement issues.

Sounds like the usual DVD hunt. Round up the guys on the street corners, close down a few of the shops, and roll up a couple of the larger networks. All of this will end, I guarantee you, with a photo-op of a mound of DVDs and a steamroller.

Did I mention that this sounded familiar?

Also take note of that reference to “awareness,” which is my least favorite word. This no doubt means more pointless posters of Jackie Chan telling us that downloading the latest puerile nonsense from Hollywood is stealing. Thanks Jackie! Gee, I hadn’t thought about it like that before!

Why do I think this is all bullshit? Consider the timing:

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is visiting Beijing this week to discuss how China — a hotbed for counterfeit goods and piracy — can better coordinate its efforts with the U.S. to stop intellectual property rights violations. Holder today held talks on the issue with senior Chinese officials in the country’s capital, according to China’s state-controlled media.

This would be what folks in the government biz call a “deliverable.” Holder comes to China, jawbones some folks about IP protection, and they announce a new crackdown campaign. He goes back to Congress and testifies about all the wonderful concessions he received from Beijing.

My cynicism is reaching new heights (lows?).

2 responses on “Arrgh! Ready for Another Anti-Piracy Campaign?

  1. luckylulu


    I saw (or heard) the IP protection campaign in person today. As I was entered the Yashow Market in Sanlitun, and was approached by several DVD sellers, a broadcast over the system said “no one should buy a DVD from the street sellers.” It was indeed a great success as I spotted only 3 people buying DVDs on the spot. Inside there were no pirate DVDs of Chinese recent blockbusters.

    From my observations, they should use similar campaigns for preventing the sales of other shanzhai products – or maybe the same method was applied in the sales of Sanlun products.