With piracy at epidemic levels and the Beijing Olympics right around the corner, the Chinese government is following its sterling records of human rights and environmental protection with its latest quasi-altruistic crusade on behalf of intellectual property rights. And we know they're serious this time, what with the city's new "Chaoyang Model Anti-Copyright Infringement and Piracy-Free Zone" and a gigantic poster of Jackie Chan earnestly warning 20 million Chinese per day: "Protect the movies, say NO to piracy!"
But even after a recent Chinese crackdown destroyed more than 47 million illegal publications ("including pirated DVD's," according to Variety), an exhausted government spokesman struggled to placate the West:
"In merely 20-odd years it is impossible for China to establish IPR (intellectual property rights) protection awareness similar to that of Western countries," said Yin Xintian, spokesman with the State Intellectual Property Office.
"As the country's economy expands, so does the production scale of each product. Taking all the factors into consideration, it is natural that there will be some piracy," Yin said.
There are fewer pirated DVDs circulating in China these days, though many people prefer to illegally download product or go to Internet cafés.
This sucks for us, who'd naturally planned to download the entire Summer Olympics before they're even broadcast — not just for the flexibility it gives us on vacation dates, but also for the furtive leg-up we'd have in Gawker Media's ultra-competitive Olympic wagering pools. We hope Chinese
pirates media minds find a solution that works conveniently for everyone involved.