Trade talks between the United States and China this week yielded some “incremental” commitments by China to reduce intellectual property (IP) infringements, said a group representing U.S. software and entertainment companies.
Tuesday’s U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) talks appear to have produced a “modest advance” in IP protections in China, said the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA), a coalition of seven trade groups representing more than 1,900 U.S. companies with copyright interests.
Although the Chinese government in 2004 committed to reducing IP violations, piracy remains high there, and promises to reduce infringement “have yet to be redeemed by the Chinese authorities,” IIPA said in a news release. The true test of the talks will be whether China increases enforcement against copyright infringers, including fines and jail terms, IIPA said.
The Business Software Alliance (BSA) trade group representing major U.S. software vendors praised the talks. China’s step, announced Monday, to require computers sold in the country to include preloaded, legal operating systems will help combat software piracy, said Robert Holleyman, BSA president and chief executive officer. But the BSA remains concerned about large businesses in China pirating business-related software, often by buying a handful of legal copies and then copying the software to many other computers, and preloaded operating systems won’t address that problem, he said.
Holleyman, in a statement released after the talks, said the discussions are headed in the right direction. “We remain hopeful that the Chinese government will translate these principles into concrete action,” he said in the statement.
China has laws against IP infringement, but enforcement is lax, Holleyman said earlier Tuesday at a press conference. When Chinese law enforcement officials take action against software pirates, the results often aren’t publicized, meaning there’s no deterrence for other copyright violators, he said.
“We’d like to see some progress in terms of criminal enforcement,” Holleyman said at the press conference.
After the JCCT talks, Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi announced that China has committed to conducting seven special enforcement operations against IP pirates this year, and it will open infringement reporting centers in 50 cities.
China will also accelerate the transfer of piracy cases from administrative to criminal enforcement bodies, she said, and the government there will crack down on consumer markets selling pirated software, CDs and DVDs.
The Information Technology Association of America (ITAA), a technology trade group, said Tuesday that “much more” needs to be done to protect IP in China. However, ITAA applauded China’s promise to refrain from issuing government procurement guidelines giving Chinese vendors preference over foreign companies. Such a policy would have hurt competition and Chinese customers, ITAA said.
-Grant Gross, IDG News Service
For related news coverage, read China to Crack Down on Software Piracy.
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