MPA honors Chinese kids' anti-piracy effort

Ambassador's Roundtable on IPR in China opens

BEIJING -- A Chinese middle school student who fought movie piracy was honored by the MPAA and U.S. government officials Thursday as the seventh annual Ambassador's Roundtable Discussion on Intellectual Property Rights in China got under way here.

The annual discussion in China's capital aims to lay out strategies to lessen the impact of rampant piracy in China of U.S. content, including films from the Hollywood studios, which the MPAA said lost $290 million in China in 2006, the last year the group compiled such data.

Clark T. Randt Jr., the U.S. ambassador to China and a Bush appointee, gave no indication about how U.S. IPR protection strategy in China would change under President-elect Barack Obama's coming administration.

MPAA executive vp Greg Frazier called Randt's IPR group "one of the best teams that the U.S. government has working on this problem around the world."

The MPA gave awards to three Chinese students who had worked to raise awareness about IPR protection, including 9-year-old Xu Huabin, who organized students at her middle school to march in support of IPR and distribute leaflets about copyright protection to sellers of DVDs and CDs.

"I can't say we're making great strides, but we do see that will, and we do see improvement," Frazier said. "I spent some time on the streets today. The products are still there, (MPA members) are still losing millions of dollars, which compounds the global financial crisis" for Hollywood studios, he said.

While Frazier repeatedly said that the MPA spends "million of dollars" on its global programs, he could not give a specific figure for China.

The MPAA is tallying new data about its member studios losses in China. Mike Ellis, MPAA senior vp and Asia regional director, acknowledged that the U.S. remains the largest market for Hollywood losses to piracy.

The Ambassador's Roundtable concludes Friday, with Randt giving opening remarks, followed by a keynote address by Debbie Cohn, deputy commissioner for trademark operations, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.