BEIJING — It's long been well-known that the People's Republic of China has been a hotbed of video piracy, with piracy rings churning out hundreds of thousands of phony DVDs, CDs, computer software and even books.
Now, PC World is reporting that the country, perhaps in a bid for legitimacy and recognition in the world business market, has detained and/or sentenced nearly 30 members of piracy rings within the past few monthsand seized over 380,000 pirated DVDs, about 10,000 of which were hardcore.
Just this year, 13 pirates were sentenced to prison terms of up to seven years, and fined as much as 105,000 yuan ($15,400 US), for trafficking in obscene materials or for copyright infringement, while over a dozen suspects in another piracy rings located in southern China were arrested last month.
However, statements from China's General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP) indicate that the Chinese government is less interested in cracking down on piracy than it is in attempting to stamp out porn. While Article 5 of the GAPP Regulations says that "All levels of the People's Government shall ensure that citizens are able to legally exercise their right to freedom of publication," Article 3 says, "Publishing businesses shall adhere to the path of serving the people and serving socialism, adhere to the guidance of Marxism, Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought and Deng Xiaoping Theory, and promulgate and accumulate scientific technology and cultural knowledge that is advantageous to economic development and social progress."
"Publishing businesses" include those producing "audio-visual products," and the Chinese government has decided that sexually explicit content is not "advantageous to ... social progress." People who publish such material, therefore, would be in violation of Article 15: "Enterprises engaging in publication printing activities may not print publications that the government has ordered censored or publications that are not published by a publishing work unit," as well as a Notice that states that "no entity or individual may engage in publishing, printing, copying or distributing books, newspapers, periodicals or audio/visual publications without authorization from the General Administration of Press and Publication."
The government has also closed down over 2,000 porn websites and arrested dozens of webmasters since January. But in a country with over 1.3 billion citizens, it's likely that such arrests have barely scratched the surface.
More information on Chinese censorship can be found here .