Digital piracy is a serious problem affecting content and software creators in a range of industries. In fact, at least 1 in 4 bits of traffic on the Internet is related to infringing content. One country in which piracy has been particularly rampant is China and the United States and international agencies such as the World Trade Organization have repeatedly called on the government to enhance enforcement.
Given this, there was some cause for optimism recently when the popular streaming video program, QVOD, was shut down by the Chinese government. The order cited the large amount of pirated and pornographic content that were delivered through the service as the key cause of the decision. In addition, the Chinese have also fined Kuaibo, the firm that runs QVOD, approximately $40 million for distributing pirated content. These actions symbolize the government’s larger effort to crack down on piracy and have led several large Internet sites, such as Sina, to publically apologize for distributing pirated or pornographic content.
It should be noted that pornography is illegal in China and some have argued that the actions by the government were designed principally to reduce the incidence of pornographic content not to reduce piracy. However, the order and fine were issued by China’s copyright agency, not by the pornographic content administrative agency, which suggests that copyright concerns were dominant.
This is not to say that China is anywhere close to having the same level of copyright enforcement as in the United States or the same low levels of digital piracy, after all, Chinese government agencies still use pirated software, but it is a step in the right direction.