It seems China's fed up with being known as the world's largest peddler of bootleg merchandise. Hoping to clean up its image, the country has launched an initiative to thwart the rampant sale of phony products. During a State Council meeting, Chinese officials outlined a "campaign to fight intellectual property rights infringement and the manufacture and sale of counterfeit goods."
Expected to start at the end of this month, the six-month-long campaign will target pirated software, movies, publications, designs, and other copyright violations. China vows to "mete out stern punishment to business involved in the import and export of such goods," and to set positive example, Chinese government agencies have been ordered to use only authorized, legitimate software.
China's counterfeit industry employs millions of people on the production, distribution and retail levels – a number that won't be easy to dent according to Christian Murck of the American Chamber of Commerce in China. Murck notes that piracy is a globalized industry and "there are typically multiple parties involved, so if you close down one piece, you don't necessarily disrupt the chain."
China has attempted to crackdown on pirated sales in the past, albeit with limited success. The country restricts consumers' access to foreign movies, often forcing them to seek illegal sources. Murck believes it might help if that policy was relaxed. He adds that both penalties and the odds of being caught infringing intellectual property rights are still too low to deter most people.