RIAA, MPAA vs China: US Takes Pirating Complaints To The WTO

It seems that the RIAA and MPAA have at least one other group of people to worry about other than college students with Kazaa: China. China likes to pirate. From NPR:

On Monday, the dispute got even hotter as the United States formally sued China in world trade court.

American companies, industry groups, the White House and Congress are united on the issue, says Robert Merges, who teaches intellectual property law at the University of California-Berkeley. The unity, he said, stems from a desire to stop Chinese piracy. And they want China to stop making it difficult for American companies to sell legal versions of their movies and music.

But it’s hard for China’s central government to convince mayors and police chiefs in towns and cities that they need to shut down shops owned by a resident, or a factory producing pirated movies that employs 100 local people.


U.S. Takes Chinese Trade Complaints to WTO [NPR]
(Photo: amyadoyzie)


Edit Your Comment

  1. 44 in a Row says:

    The interesting part, of course, is that the U.S. is currently ignoring a WTO ruling on internet gambling, the result of a complaint brought by Antigua. The WTO ruled that U.S. restrictions on internet gambling violate market-access commitments for WTO members; the U.S. has basically taken an attitude of, “Make me.” So I’m kind of surprised (but not really) that they’re now trying to get other countries to follow WTO countries.

  2. 44 in a Row says:

    *to get other countries to follow WTO commitments.

  3. mac-phisto says:

    has someone explained to these ppl that intellectual property doesn’t exist in a communist state? *scratches head*

    wto is a joke anyway.

  4. The reason pirating is so prolific tends to be because you simply can’t watch certain TV shows or movies without pirating them. China’s government sn’t allowing import of american movies – so the people find a way around it.

    People in Australia can’t get almost ANY American programming until 6-8 months after it’s been shown in the US – and pirating is especially strong down there because of it. The same with many countries in Europe. The US can’t get British programming for the same amount of time, but I think Doctor Who is the only major show out of Brittania nowadays. And imported foreign films in US? Impossible to find!

    Summery: It’s not that people in other countries steal music/movies from the US – it’s that it’s the only way to get them. America is a different story, mostly… we’re just lazy pennypinchers :)

    Also – gambling sites tend to have a piece of their terms of service that they won’t pay out money to places it’s prohibited (eg, anywhere other than the US). They only pay off the small winnings (cause they make money off most people) but can avoid the big payoffs by citing their ToS.

  5. etinterrapax says:

    @mac-phisto: What I was going to say. They have huge problems with textbook pirating, also. The publishing companies have been pursuing that for years, without success.

  6. B says:

    RIAA vs China? I hope they both lose.

  7. Gari N. Corp says:

    Oddly enough the Chinese government maintains an English-language channel whose entire purpose (as far as I could tell for the few days I visited Beijing) was to convince foreign businessmen of how much they were doing to combat piracy.

  8. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    @mac-phisto: Probabley because China isnt using a true form of Communism.

    Plus why is this a surprise? The Chinese have been pirating everything they can get their hands on since they became commies… Until recently almost all their tech was reverse engineered from Russia,the US or Japan.

  9. enm4r says:


    This is a very important point that I think goes unheard in the US because there is no realization of something being impossible to obtain legally. I lived in Honduras a few years back, and though we had a nice american style theater (very nice in fact) and I had internet speeds faster than what I now have years later with RCN/Comcast, American TV shows, many movies, and videogames were all but impossible.

    Due to import taxes I’m sure, I could access a limited selection, but I’m not going to pay double what I’d pay in the US for videogames, CDs, or DVDs. This is not a reasonable solution though, and I’d choose pirating every time when faced with paying $100 for a videogame or $35 for a DVD.

  10. crayonshinobi says:

    Regional encoding is also against WTO rulings, so the MPAA has no business making demands for performance to WTO standards either.

  11. superlayne says:

    I’m holding out for a global online media market. Call me an optimist, but once we don’t have to buy DVDs to watch movies, a lot of these problems might stop…Because technically, then, it’s not an import.

    Then those 100 employees can legitimately download and burn movies to sell to their comrades! :3

  12. mac-phisto says:

    @Nemesis_Enforcer: i guess we could argue that the only “true” form of communism exists only on paper. china is as close as you can get to the real deal. the state owns virtually everything outside of their “free trade zones”.

    not to sound like a defeatist, but the PRC cannot figure out how to dole out property rights to citizens properly, the PLA still controls a good portion of “private enterprise” (despite what the papers say) including many of these pirate factories, & they’ve yet to fully float their currency. how can you expect them to enforce copyright legislation?

    & i thought suing 7-yr olds was a waste of time….

  13. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    @mac-phisto: Yeah I agree with you. I always wondered why they bother to try to proclaim they are biend progressive..but then I remember they just want some good press to help over-ride all the bad press.

  14. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    being…damn I gotta stop typing in a hurry..

  15. ngwoo says:

    They’re suing a whole country for stealing music now?

    Can we sue mars for stealing those rovers?

  16. moorie679 says:

    Mac-Pisto you should read up about china in terms of economics, they do not float their currency because they do not want to, not that they cant (and just incase if you are going to reply back saying it would f*ck up their economy well guess what it will f*ck up the US economy even more). Second, why would china care about good press or bad press? whats good press going to help them accomplish? Absolutely nothing…..summary: China will not float their currency, care about human rights, copyrights, enviromental factors etc. nor bad press. RIAA can suck on a railroad spike.

  17. mac-phisto says:

    @moorie679: i have read up. they did, in fact, allow a “slight” float in their currency. instead of being benchmarked against the dollar, it is now benchmarked against a pool of foreign currencies with a small margin for movement.

    i don’t recall discussing press at all, other than my reference to PLA ownership of private enterprise. of course china doesn’t care about press…the party writes it inside (& sometimes outside) their borders.

    but, what they do care about is access to foreign markets. that is why they pushed so hard to get into the wto. however, being a member of the wto requires certain concessions; such as trading on an even playing field. they are not, that is how they have managed to grow their economy at exponential rates.

    ideally, they should have lost free market access by now, due to their failure to abide by terms required for admittance to the wto. realistically, this would cause economic problems throughout the world.

    finally, don’t believe all that b.s. about us going down if china’s economy fails, or calls our loans due. that’s a fool’s argument, based on hapless assumptions.