China slams "distorted" view of copyright piracy problem

BEIJING Sun Nov 11, 2012 4:05am EST

Director of the State Intellectual Property Office of China Tian Lipu answers a question during a news conference in Beijing October 18, 2007. REUTERS/Jason Lee

Director of the State Intellectual Property Office of China Tian Lipu answers a question during a news conference in Beijing October 18, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/Jason Lee

Related Topics

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's top official in charge of fighting copyright piracy on Sunday slammed what he said was deliberate distortion of the problem by the Western media caused by the country's poor global image, saying important facts had been ignored.

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 DVD movies sold on the street.

The United States in April again put China, along with Russia, on its annual list of countries with the worst records of preventing the theft of copyrighted material and other intellectual property.

But Tian Lipu, head of China's State Intellectual Property Office, said the government's efforts were being ignored.

"Speaking honestly, there is a market. People use and buy pirated goods," Tian told reporters on the sidelines of a landmark Communist Party congress.

"To a large extent, China's intellectual property rights protection image has been distorted by Western media.

"China's image overseas is very poor. As soon as people hear China they think or piracy and counterfeiting -- (Beijing's) Sanlitun, that place in Shanghai, Luohu in Shenzhen," he said, referring to places notorious for selling fake goods.

"We don't deny (this problem), and we are continuing to battle against it," Tian added.

But other facts were overlooked, he said.

"For example, China is the world's largest payer for patent rights, for trademark rights, for royalties, and one of the largest for buying real software," he said. "We pay the most. People rarely talk about this, but it really is a fact. Our government offices, our banks, our insurance companies, our firms ... the software is all real."

Microsoft Corp and other members of the Business Software Alliance in the United States complain that nearly 80 percent of the software installed on personal computers in China is pirated.

Tian said that if companies like Apple Inc were so worried by piracy they would never choose China for their production bases.

"Of the goods made for Apple, most are made in China. Once Apple's brand is added to it and it is exported to the United States its value doubles," he said.

"This could only happen because China's intellectual property rights environment sets foreign investors at ease allowing them to come to China to manufacture."

The International Intellectual Property Alliance, a U.S. coalition of film, software, music and publishing groups, estimates that U.S. companies lost more than $15 billion in 2009 due to international copyright theft.

About $14 billion of the total was due to software piracy, with an estimated $3.5 billion in losses in China and $1.4 billion in Russia.

(Editing by Ron Popeski)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see
Comments (10)
mgunn wrote:
He has a point. I’ve seen studies where other countries have a higher per capita rate of piracy (e.g. Vietnam) and perhaps the infrastructure is not there to high-speed download movies and software like we do here, via torrents and file-sharing sites, which is massive.

Nov 11, 2012 10:41am EST  --  Report as abuse
Copyright and Patents need to go away. Both are just another monopoly to dole out privilege for a given amount of time. A thing exists or is created because the time is right for it to be so created. It’s why Aristotle didn’t write 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and the Vikings didn’t write the Windows OS. The time being right for it is due to humanities collective advancement and knowledge.

If I can purchase a product I should be able to do anything i want with it including copying it. Otherwise I didn’t purchase it, it isn’t my property and it was only leased to begin with.

Piracy is theft without purchase. Pirates used to board your ship and plunder you without rendering any service that you chose to employ voluntarily. A person buying a product and doing what he wants with it is not piracy of any kind.

If a person truly wants to keep an idea as his own property, then he should keep it to himself, in his own mind, and share it with no one via any method of communication whatsoever. If my eyes see it and if my money can purchase it, it should rightfully be mine and all other claims to it abandoned.

Nov 11, 2012 12:18pm EST  --  Report as abuse
tmc wrote:
@LysanderTucker, you obviously have never spent a lot of time creating anything of value. Try it sometime and Ill bet your mood changes.

Nov 11, 2012 3:24pm EST  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

Track China's Leaders