Yao Ming joins MPA to stuff piracy

Awareness campaign begins this week

BEIJING -- NBA star and Chinese national hero Yao Ming is lending a hand in the fight against piracy with a new poster campaign aimed at movie theaters and schools across China.

"I Need Your Support, Copyright Protection Needs Our Support," read the Chinese characters on a film director's clapper featured on a poster that shows the 7-foot-6 NBA center palming a basketball in his red Houston Rockets uniform.

Starting Wednesday, the poster will be displayed in thousands of movie theaters and hundreds of school campuses across China, spreading Yao's message to millions of consumers, the Motion Picture Assn. said in a statement.

"Piracy has a severe impact on China's domestic film industry," MPA Asia Pacific president Mike Ellis said. "Yao Ming is an excellent ambassador for raising public awareness about IPR protection."

The campaign, which is supported by the MPA, the China Film Copyright Protection Assn., the Beijing Student Film Festival, the NBA and the Yao Ming Foundation, sees Yao carry on the intellectual property rights promotion work begun by Hong Kong film giant Jackie Chan.

Chan's message -- "Protect Movies, Say No to Piracy!" -- was displayed on buses, refrigerator magnets and a 100 square-meter poster in Beijing's Silk Market, a notorious center for the sale of pirated goods.

Last year, Chan's work drew him a gold medal award for innovative individuals from the World Intellectual Property Organization.
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