Shanghai 'Crackdown' On Bootleg Discs Just Moves Them Underground

from the well-that's-useful dept

For many years, we’ve pointed out the futility of the entertainment industry’s constant focus on “shutting down” any source of unauthorized material. Every time they do so, the content sharing continues to grow — it just moves further underground and makes it that much more difficult for the industry to actually use it to their own advantage. It appears this happens not just online, but offline as well. We’ve noted recently that China has been paying lip service to external pressures to “crack down” on infringement, often by using copyright and patent laws to go after foreign companies as well. But it appears to also be playing itself out in other ways.

The NY Times is covering how Chinese officials have been going around to DVD and CD shops that have lots of unauthorized bootlegs, and telling them that for the World Expo (which begins May 1), they need to stop selling that content so directly. It appears most of the shops all responded in nearly identical ways: cutting their stores in half by putting up a wall in the middle, then placing legitimate discs upfront, and putting all the bootlegs on the other side of the wall, with a “secret” doorway. The effort was so consistent that some accuse Chinese officials of suggesting this to store owners. Some stores readily admit that after the Expo ends, they’ll tear down the wall and return to a single storefront.

Either way, it’s quite similar to what we’ve seen online. You can “crackdown” all you want, and it never actually slows down the trade in unauthorized content. It just moves it further underground… or, perhaps, behind a (not so) secret wall.

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Comments on “Shanghai 'Crackdown' On Bootleg Discs Just Moves Them Underground”

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Anonymous Coward says:

There are many laws banning things. Fighting. Rape. Domestic violence. Cruelty to animals. Worse. Some people will want to do these things regardless.

All of those things can be done in public, or can be moved to places where it’s hard to see them happening. Inside buildings. Dark alleys. Secret clubs. Whatever.

So what? The laws are pointless? The laws just encourage criminals to “go underground” with these behaviors?

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re:

All of those things can be done in public, or can be moved to places where it’s hard to see them happening. Inside buildings. Dark alleys. Secret clubs. Whatever.

So what? The laws are pointless? The laws just encourage criminals to “go underground” with these behaviors?

The things you mention generally involve an unwilling victim who has to be present in person for the activity to take place.

Drugs and copyright are different because either the “victim” is usually a willing participant (drugs) or does not need to be personally involved or even aware of a particular infringement (copyright).

That makes a huge difference to the hideability of the activity.

Anonymous Coward says:

it isnt a crackdown, that is misleading. it is putting on a better face for a time when the world comes to visit, like cleaning up your apartment before you parents come over. you dont get rid of the bongs, you just put them in the closet where nobody will see them. another misleading title on a techdirt piece, ad another fine masnick reach.

Michael P (profile) says:

This happens everywhere in China, all the time

I used to live in the Southern part of China. We lived near a big technology market. Almost everything sold there was fake. If you wanted the latest movies and video games, each stall had a few out the front, but for a larger selection they would take you to their back room where they had shelves full of everything, I once saw the entire boxed set of Friends for about $10. Once they got to know you they’d just take you there without saying anything. Cracking down is not going to stop this. The media companies need to sell the legit stuff much more cheaply.

RobShaver (profile) says:

It's like drunk drivers ...

You lock one up and, what do you know, another one comes along. It’s so futility to expect anyone to follow any law. Let’s just get rid of the laws and end all that frustration.

Is that your proposal? We’re not talking infinite goods here with DVDs right? You can’t stop theft, oh well, let’s use it to our advantage.

I run hot and cold on these ideas.

Apparently you can’t stop drunk driving but should we stop trying? How can we take advantage of it? Make the prison sentences longer? Prisons are a growth industry.

I’m so confused:(

Andrew D. Todd (user link) says:

The Death Penalty.

China executes thousands of people each year, not just for murder, but also for various kinds of property and economic crimes, including swindling or forgery, selling tainted food, drug dealing, coercive pimping, tax evasion, etc.'s_Republic_of_China's_Republic_of_China

Many of these grounds are large and vague, and in practice, any Chinese businessman whose activities become sufficiently annoying to the government can be executed for something or other. As for professional gangsters, they kill each other anyway, and sell drugs, so they can be liquidated on that basis, but there are a wide variety of other possible laws if those two grounds should not be convenient.

The basic test of commitment for the Chinese government in enforcing economic regulations is a bullet in the back of the head of the offender. That means that if you are trying to compel the Chinese government to uphold copyrights, you had better have the courage of your convictions, and the willingness to stand trial in the International Criminal Court, as an accomplice to mass murder. Suppose that the Chinese announce that such and such a person is being shot at the demand of Rupert Murdoch, and they broadcast video of the execution, just to rub the point in. Then they announce that such and such another person is being shot at the demand of Steve Jobs. And so on. Of course, the persons shot will probably be all-purpose low-lifes, whom everyone in China wants to be rid of, but they can be gotten to make the appropriate confessions for the convenience of the government.

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