Infringement and Piracy in 2018
In order to showcase the outcomes of settling infringement and piracy cases and play the demonstration role of typical cases, the National Copyright Administration of China (NCAC) and the National Office Against Pornography and Illegal Publications identified Top Ten Cases of Cracking Down on Infringement and Piracy in 2018, and hereby announced as follows.
1. Beijing Global Education & Technology Co., Ltd. disseminated pirated electronic publications
In August 2018, based on complaints from copyright holders, Beijing Municipal Cultural Market Administrative Law Enforcement Team investigated the case of Beijing Global Education & Technology Co., Ltd. infringing copyright of literary works. It was found that from June 2017 to August 2018, without permission from Cambridge University Press, the company provided PDF download and reading services of 9 publications including Cambridge IELTS on its website. In August 2018, Beijing Municipal Cultural Market Administrative Law Enforcement Team fined the company to pay RMB 225,000 yuan.
Comments: This was a typical case of infringing the copyright of the publishers. The copyright law enforcement agencies were highly concerned about infringement and piracy in the network environment, seriously investigating and punishing violations of the copyrights of foreign publishers based on law. This reflected that the Chinese government was firm and proactive in fulfilling its international commitments in strictly protecting intellectual property rights.
2. Shanghai “3DboboVR” APP spread pirated 3D film and television products
In July 2018, after getting the complaints report from copyright holders, Shanghai Municipal Cultural Market Administrative Law Enforcement Team investigated the case of “3DboboVR” APP infringing the copyright of movies. It was found that since its operation of “3DboboVR” App from December 2015, Shanghai Lehuan Software Co., Ltd. has provided streaming service of 25 movies including PacificRim: Uprising and Black Panther without permissions of copyright holders. In October 2018, Shanghai Municipal Cultural Market Administrative Law Enforcement Team fined the company RMB 250,000 yuan.
Comments: This was a typical case of copyright infringement in new industry of VR. As a leading company in VR industry, the violator had little awareness of copyright protection since it spread 3D infringing film and television works online. The copyright law enforcement authorities paid attention to copyright protection of emerging industries and expanded the coverage of law enforcement while making useful explorations of investigating new cases.
3. WeChat public account “Purple Potato Theater” from Wuxi, Jiangsu disseminating pirated film and television works
In June 2018, after getting complaints report from copyright holders, Wuxi Copyright Bureau in Jiangsu Province investigated WeChat public account “Purple Potato Theater” infringing movie copyright. It was found that on its WeChat public account “Purple Potato Theater” and related websites, Wuxi Jiaku Information Technology Co., Ltd. provided online broadcast services of infringing movies and TV works to attract users, and made profits through induced shopping, games and fictions jointly operated with a third party. In July 2018, Wuxi Copyright Bureau of Jiangsu Province fined the company RMB 120,000 yuan.
Comments: This was a typical case of using WeChat public account to spread infringing film and television works. In recent years, there were increasing cases of spreading pirated works through social platforms such as WeChat and Weibo, and e-commerce platforms such as Taobao and Xianyu, as well as storage platforms such as network disks etc. This had seriously damaged the legitimate rights and interests of copyright holders and undermined online copyright order. The copyright law enforcement agencies cracked down on infringement and piracy through various platforms, which was positive and important for strengthening the management of online platform and promoting healthy development of the industry.
4. Tianjin Bailian Education Technology Group Co., Ltd. selling pirated training textbooks
In June 2018, based on the complaints of the right holders, Tianjin Municipal Cultural Market Administrative Law Enforcement Team, working with law enforcement teams in each district, investigated Tianjin Bailian Education Technology Group Co., Ltd. infringing copyright of literary works. After searching six campuses of the group, the teams found out a large number of alleged infringing books including the Economic Law. According to copyright holders, 31 publications with 169 copies were infringing and pirated. In August 2018, Tianjin Municipal Cultural Market Administrative Law Enforcement Team confiscated the infringing books and fined the company over RMB 103,600 yuan.
Comments: This was a typical case of educational and training agencies infringing on the copyrights of others. In recent years, lack of basic copyright awareness, some education and training agencies used pirated textbooks in teaching, which had not only seriously damaged the legitimate rights and interests of copyright holders, but also had negative impact on education and training industry. This case had demonstration significance for all education and training agencies to set up copyright awareness and maintain the order of book market.
5. Beijing “8.08” selling pirated children’s books
In April 2016, based on report clues received, Beijing Municipal Cultural Market Administrative Law Enforcement Team, the Public Security Management Team of Beijing Public Security Bureau, Xicheng Public Security Sub-bureau and Tongzhou Public Security Sub-bureau set up a special task force to investigate a person surnamed Zhao selling pirated children’s books. 3.6 million copies of pirated children’s books were found, worth RMB 91 million yuan. In January 2018, the People’s Court of Tongzhou District of Beijing sentenced Zhao to six years and six months in prison for infringement of copyright, and fined RMB 1.5 million yuan; another person surnamed Zhao was sentenced four years in prison and was fined RMB 300,000 yuan. Others accused were sentenced to three years and three months or two years and six months in prison and were also fined.
Comments: This was a typical case of selling infringing and pirated children’s books. It was the worst case of infringement and pirated books in recent years with the largest number, the highest value, the widest coverage, the largest variety of children’s books and the worst social impact. It had greatly frightened violators and standardized the copyright order of the publications market.
6. Guangdong Long and others operating unauthorized servers for online games
In June 2017, Huangpu District Bureau of Guangzhou Municipal Public Security Bureau in Guangdong Province investigated a person surnamed Long and others infringing online games copyright. It was found that without authorization from copyright holders, Long and others came to Thailand to set up and operated unauthorized game “Waiwai Shenwu” by using computer and remote control software. Since September 2017, aware of the company operating games on unauthorized servers, Mechanical Cattle Network Technology (Suzhou) Co., Ltd. has still connected to the unauthorized website through the “Pai’ai Pay” platform, providing players recharge channels and payment settlement services. The recharge and settlement amount from players totaled RMB 3.626 million yuan, and the company took service charge by proportions. In December 2018, People’s Court of Huangpu District, Guangzhou, Guangdong Province fined Long and Li and sentenced them two years and one year and six months respectively in prison for the crime of copyright infringement; charged of crime of helping online crimes, Mechanical Cattle Network Technology (Suzhou) Co., Ltd. was fined RMB 30,000 yuan. The legal representative of the company was sentenced to a 10-month imprisonment and was fined RMB 10,000 yuan.
Comments: As a transnational online infringement crime, this case was using concealed methods, with cross-border and industrialized operations. The authorities investigating the case solved the difficulty of collecting cross-border through technical means. At the same time, the applicable law was the provisions of the Criminal Law (Amendment IX), which was implemented in November 2015 that criminal penalties should be given to serious crimes which provide technical support or assistance to crimes performed by using the Internet. It therefore had important demonstration significance.
7. Jiangsu Huai’an “bttiantang (BT Paradise)” spread pirated film and television works through the Internet
In July 2016, according to copyrights holder’s report, Huai’an Municipal Public Security Bureau in Jiangsu Province, Huai’an Copyright Bureau and Cultural Market Administrative Law Enforcement Team set up a task force to investigate online copyright infringement of film and television works by “BT Paradise”. It was found that since 2015, after purchasing the domain name, server and virtual host of the “BT Paradise” website on the Internet, without permissions from copyright holders, Yuan has posted seed file links of a large number of film and television works on his website for downloading, so that he could make money from advertisements. From May 2015 to July 2016, the website released 24,737 film and television products resources, and illegally earned more than RMB 1.4 million yuan. In December 2018, Huai’an Intermediate People’s Court of Jiangsu Province sentenced Yuan to three years in prison for infringement of copyright and fined him RMB 800,000 yuan.
Comments: This was a typical case of providing illegal links through P2P technology to disseminate infringing film and television works. Intentionally and with weak awareness of laws, the person infringed copyright of online distribution of film and television works. This case had very bad influence at home and abroad, as it involved large number of works and made huge money illegally. The investigation and handling of this case had a major impact on online distribution of film and television works.
8. Chengdu, Sichuan Wu producing and selling pirated teaching tutorials
In November 2017, Tianfu New District Sub-bureau of Chengdu Municipal Public Security Bureau in Sichuan Province investigated a person surnamed Wu and others producing and selling pirated teaching tutorials. It was found that since August 2015, Wu has made profits by collaborating with others to reproduce Biochemical Basis and other pirated teaching tutorials with a total number of over 16,000 copies. In November 2018, the People’s Court of Shuangliu District of Chengdu, Sichuan Province sentenced Wu four years and six months in prison for infringement of copyright, and fined him 400,000 yuan, banning him selling books and journals within 4 years; a person surnamed Gao was sentenced to three years and six months in prison and was fined RMB 200,000 yuan; a person surnamed Jiang was sentenced to a three-year imprisonment and was fined RMB 50,000 yuan; others accused were also sentenced to imprisonment with probation and were fined.
Comments: This was a typical case of copyright infringement as it infringed reproduction and distribution rights. Due to a large number of pirated books produced and sold and large amount of illegal profits, the procuratorate authorities dealing with the case suggested the court apply “business prohibition” when considering its sentence, which had achieved good legal and social effects.
9. Jiaxing, Zhejiang Duan producing and selling pirated books
In March 2017, according to report clues, Jiaxing Municipal Public Security Bureau and Copyright Bureau, working with Public Security Bureau and the Copyright Bureau of Haiyan County, investigated the case of a person surnamed Duan and others who produced and sold pirated books. The task force went to Beijing, Shandong, Henan and other places for the investigation. With support from local public security bureaus and copyright departments, about 200 policemen participated in investigation, and they finally arrested the group led by Duan who produced and sold books. 2 criminal dens and one printing factory were destroyed. More than 500,000 pirated books were detained, worth more than RMB 2 million yuan. In August 2018, People’s Court of Haiyan County sentenced Duan and a person surnamed Sun to three years in prison for infringement of copyright, and fined them 50,000 yuan; 14 were sentenced to prison with probation and were fined.
Comments: This was a typical case combating piracy gangs. The case involved multiple links involving production, printing, and sales. With huge number of infringement and piracy books, the case had very bad impact. The copyright law enforcement agencies and public security departments strengthened cross-regional law enforcement collaboration and cooperated closely. They effectively cracked down the entire chain of infringement and piracy and achieved positive outcomes, getting extensive media attention.
10. Chen and others from Yongxin, Jiangxi selling pirated teaching tutorials
In September 2016, according to daily inspection clues, Copyright Law Enforcement Agency in Yongxin County of Jiangxi Province found out that many bookstores were suspected of selling pirated teaching tutorials. Due to large numbers of the piracy books, the case was immediately transferred to the public security department for investigation. A total of 9 criminals were arrested. 6 selling dens and 1 production den were destroyed. More than 100,000 pirated books were confiscated, worth more than RMB 10 million yuan. Property worth over RMB 2 million yuan was recovered. In July 2018, People’s Court in Yongxin County, Jiangxi Province sentenced the person surnamed Chen to five years in prison for infringement of copyright and fined him more than RMB 800,000 yuan; a person surnamed Zhao was sentenced to two years and one month in prison and was fined more than RMB 430,000 yuan. 5 other accused people were sentenced to imprisonment with probation or detention, and were fined between RMB 500,000 yuan and RMB 78,000 yuan. Two others were fined.
Comments: This was a typical case of combating to infringement and piracy by close cooperation of the copyright law enforcement agencies and public security bureau. After discovering clues from daily inspections, the copyright law enforcement agencies promptly transferred the case to the public security bureau for further investigation. Finally the trans-regional case of infringement and piracy books covering several provinces were successfully uncovered, providing successful experience in strengthening cooperation between administrative law enforcement and criminal justice of copyright and enhancing regional law enforcement collaboration.