China has tightened its rules on intellectual property theft, lowering the threshold for "serious offenders" who will face up to seven years in jail, state media said April 6. Anyone who produces more than 2,500 discs of movies, music or computer software is now regarded a serious offender, down from the previous cut-off level of 5,000 discs, the China Daily reported.
The new rules, which take effect immediately, were jointly issued by the Supreme People's Court and the prosecutor's office on April 5, according to the report.
The rules also threaten jail of up to three years for anyone manufacturing 500 discs, whereas in the past this punishment was only possible if a minimum of 1,000 discs had been produced.
The regulations also allow for stiffer fines to "strip violators of the economic capability and conditions to commit crime," the newspaper said. This means that fines must range from one to five times the illegal income, or between 50% and 100% of the sales value of the goods produced, it said, without detailing the previous punishments.
The rules are likely to lead to sharp increase in the number of copyright infringement cases handled by local courts, the China Daily said. After the threshold was lowered in a similar rule change in 2004, intellectual property right cases shot up 28% the following year, it said.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007