Shanghai Cracks Down on Pirated Movies

Shanghai is cracking down on pirated videos ahead of the city's international film festival, putting illegal copies of the latest "Stars Wars" (search) movie and TV shows such as "Friends" (search) out of reach at least for now.

Stores have temporarily closed or boxed up unauthorized DVDs to avoid having them seized in police raids. Sidewalk sellers who peddle copies out of suitcases also are lying low.

"To crack down against the pirate DVDs is our job and duty," Lan Yiming, deputy head of Shanghai's culture inspection bureau, said in a telephone interview.

"We want to create a good cultural environment for the international film festival and give guests from home and abroad a good impression," he said.

The eighth edition of the annual Shanghai International Film Festival (search) the only one of its kind in China's vast entertainment market runs for nine days starting Saturday. It will feature around 200 selections from South Korea, Germany and Japan.

Hundreds of exhibitors and film industry professionals are due to attend, including Hong Kong action star Jackie Chan (search), Chinese director Zhang Yimou (search) and Japanese filmmaker Yoji Yamada (search).

Lan said the anti-piracy sweep aims to prevent the embarrassment of actors and film professionals attending the festival being confronted with pirated versions of their films for sale.

Pirated disks, including high-quality copies of recent Hollywood releases, are usually widely available in Shanghai and other Chinese cities for less than $1. Many stores also sell authorized copies, although these are usually drawn from a narrow selection of older films that cost several times the price of pirated movies and are usually dubbed into Chinese.

It wasn't clear whether the campaign would make any kind of dent in China's rampant intellectual property rights violations.