Studios Sue Chinese Download Website

Posted on November 22, 2007

Major American studios have banded together to sue a Chinese site that allows its viewers to download American movies without permission from the copyright holders. The site also pays no royalties to writers, directors, producers or anyone else.

Beijing-based and an Internet cafe in Shanghai face a legal showdown with Twentieth Century Fox, Walt Disney, Paramount Pictures, Columbia Pictures, and Universal Studios, the Xinhua news agency reported. The film-makers allege created software the cafe used to run a movie download business, and they are demanding 3.2 million yuan ($432,000) in compensation, Xinhua said. promotes itself as "My on-line cinema" and claims to be China's biggest film download provider with close to 30,000 movies and television series customers can copy onto computers.


The case to be heard in Shanghai promises to be one more skirmish in a battle of words and legal threats between China and the United States, which says the rough-and-tumble Asian economy does far too little to stop commercial pirates. Washington has complained to the World Trade Organization that slipshod Chinese rules have allowed a booming industry in pirated American goods, including movies and software, costing American firms billions of dollars. On Chinese streets, pirated DVDs cost as little as $1, much less than legitimate copies sold in wealthy countries. And Web sites offering downloadable entertainment are popular among the country's tens of millions of Internet users.


The studios say and the cafe distributed 13 films without permission, including X-Men 2 and Night at the Museum, Xinhua reported. Other U.S. companies have sued and won against Chinese copiers. In September, studios won damages from a Beijing business selling copies of "Lord of the Rings" and other popular films.

The massive piracy of American films by China really has to stop; the WTO has been far too lax on this issue. They want to be part of the WTO, then they need to abide by American and European intellectual property laws. And it's not just films that are counterfeited: it's drugs, tires and other items that are knockoffs of the originals. Buying a pirated copy of Night at the Museum won't kill anyone, but buying a fake prescription for a cancer drug will.

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