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Chinese cops shutter PRC's biggest pirate movie site

Symbolic move but country remains an IP Wild West

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The Chinese authorities’ ongoing efforts to crack down on piracy have claimed another big scalp after police shuttered the nation's largest online source of not-entirely-properly-sourced movies last Friday, cuffing eight execs along the way.

Siluhd.com is said to have over 140 million members, who each pay 50 yuan (£5) every month to access a vast range of movies the site probably isn't really allowed to offer.

Police arrested CEO Zhou Mou, who has been at the site since 2003, and seven other executives, finding 190 1TB hard disks at his home containing over 10,000 movies and TV shows, according to Caijing.

A further 30 of the company’s 139 employees are also apparently facing the slammer for their role in illegally distributing pirated content on a grand scale.

While China is certainly trying to portray itself as tough on IP theft, there was more than a hint of showmanship about the arrests. The site has been around for a decade, but the authorities chose last Friday – World Intellectual Property Day – to make their move.

Another pirated movie site, YYeTs.com, also appeared to have had its service interrupted as of last week, although claims the outage is only temporary, according to TechInAsia.

The high profile arrests come after e-commerce giant Alibaba Group last week announced its intention to co-operate with government and law enforcement agencies to share information on potential counterfeiters operating on its hugely popular C2C and B2C platforms.

From the government’s perspective, tougher action on piracy and counterfeiters will help it achieve its goal of growing the e-commerce industry into the world’s biggest by 2015, as well as making the PRC more attractive to foreign investors and even as an offshoring destination.

However, its IP protection regime remains a work in progress and, according to the Business Software Alliance, China has a software piracy rate of 77 per cent – making it still one of the world’s worst offenders. ®

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