U.S. film industry group wins Chinese piracy suit

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A U.S. film industry group said it won damages Friday in a lawsuit against Chinese film pirates but said the ruling might mean little amid the huge scale of violations.

A Shanghai court ordered the Shanghai Le Ying AV Products Co. to pay 177,142 yuan ($23,230) to four U.S. film studios for copyright violation, the MPA said.

The Shanghai No. 1 Intermediate Court's ruling was the film group's third victory in a series of suits against a group of shops in Shanghai accused of selling pirated DVDs.

"We remain concerned, however, that the court's award is 'too little, too late' in the context of the vast unauthorized and illegal enterprise in which Shanghai Le Ying and others were and are engaged," Frank Rittman, the MPA's vp for Asia-Pacific, said in a statement.

Beijing has increased penalties for product piracy and stepped up enforcement amid foreign complaints that China is a leading source of illicit copies of music, movies and other goods. But the MPA and other industry groups say piracy is growing faster than enforcement, driven by China's explosive economic growth.

Film piracy is believed to have cost American studios $244 million and Chinese studios $2.4 billion in lost potential boxoffice revenues in China in 2005, according to Michael Ellis, MPA's senior vp for Asia-Pacific.

The same Shanghai shop was ordered to pay 31,392 yuan ($4,116) to three other MPA members in March.

Employees who answered the phone at the court Friday afternoon said they could not confirm whether such a ruling was issued.

Shanghai Le Ying was part of a group of outlets that operated as the Ka De Club shops, according to the MPA.

MPA member studios also won a judgment against another shop in the group in December.
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