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U.S. film firms win piracy case in China

December 20, 2006|From the Associated Press

BEIJING — Five U.S. movie studios have won a court case against a Beijing shop accused of selling pirated copies of "Mr. & Mrs. Smith," "War of the Worlds" and other titles, the Motion Picture Assn. said Tuesday.

The Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People's Court ruled the Yu Hao Qing DVD store and its parent company, Beijing Century Hai Hong Trading Co., were guilty of copyright infringement. It ordered them to stop selling pirated moves and pay $20,100 in compensation.

The association said the case brought by Sony Corp.'s Columbia Pictures, Walt Disney Co.'s Disney Enterprises Inc., Viacom Inc.'s Paramount Pictures, News Corp.'s 20th Century Fox and Universal Studios also highlighted the need for China to open market access to foreign movies.

"It is a small step up a very big mountain," Roberto De Vido, an association spokesman, told the Associated Press. The Los Angeles-based group represents U.S. studios in international markets.

Beijing is awash in pirated videos -- costing as little as $1 -- which often go on sale shortly after they appear in theaters in North America or Europe.

Good-quality, pirated versions of the hit movie "Borat" went on sale on Beijing streets this week.

Frank Rittman, a Motion Picture Assn. vice president and Asian legal counsel, said the court victory also highlighted the problem of foreign filmmakers' lack of access to China's market, with only 20 of the movies allowed to be released a year, creating huge demand that is filled by pirated videos.

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