China's Taobao e-commerce site signs deal with US film rep to curb piracy

SHANGHAI, Sept 7 Fri Sep 7, 2012 2:00am EDT

SHANGHAI, Sept 7 (Reuters) - China's largest e-commerce website, Taobao Marketplace, has signed a pact with the Motion Picture Association (MPA), an affiliate of the Motion Picture Association of America, to curb the sale of counterfeit and copyright-infringing products on the platform.

Foreign governments, including the United States, have for years urged China to take a stronger stand against pervasive violations of intellectual property rights on products ranging from medicines to software to movies sold on the streets.

Under the agreement, Taobao Marketplace and the MPA will cooperate to identify and remove listings for counterfeit goods and those that infringe the copyrights of MPA member companies, both parties said.

China's Alibaba Group owns Taobao and the deal was signed just ahead of Alibaba's annual conference this weekend where Michael Ellis, the Asia president of the Motion Picture Association of America, is slated to speak.

The MPA acts on behalf of the members of the Motion Picture Association of America, which include Paramount Pictures Corp, Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp, Universal City Studios LLC, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

China has the most number of Internet users in the world and its e-commerce sector is booming. However, intellectual property violations remain a headache for foreign companies as China struggles to crack down on the numerous factories and shops peddling the fake goods.

Late last year, Alibaba Group's Taobao unit was put on the United States Trade Representative's notorious markets list for offering a wide range of copyright-infringing products.

Early this year, China's Ministry of Commerce protested the move and Alibaba petitioned the USTR to remove Taobao from the list given the platform's efforts to work with intellectual property rights holders to combat piracy. The USTR has not released an update to its list.

China's Taobao Marketplace is the largest consumer-oriented e-commerce platform with a more than a 70 percent market share, according to analysts.

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