Beijing’s Zhongguancun area is the bustling heart of its tech scene, home to both startups and tech giants alike. It’s also the heart of the city’s electronics retail market, with several gigantic malls peddling everything from televisions to computer parts and software. One thing it hasn’t been, though, is a bastion of intellectual property rights. As recently as this summer, I recall the Zhongguancun subway stop being plastered with ads begging people to buy the real version of Windows 7 — and then emerging from the station to be immediately confronted by touts selling versions that were of, erm, questionable legality.
But four of Zhongguancun’s biggest electronics malls have taken a step towards eradicating software piracy. After signing an agreement to protect IP rights, the four markets have announced new rules for vendors, and they sound rather strict. The first time a vendor is caught selling pirated software — or computers with a pirate OS installed — they will be fined 1000 RMB ($156). The second time, though, their shop will be forced to close until they’ve cleaned out all their pirated goods. And if it happens a third time, they’ll be kicked out of the mall permanently.
These measures could be an effective deterrent, as locations in any of the four main electronics malls are prime real estate, and vendors aren’t likely to relish the prospect of getting kicked out over a 5 RMB bootleg of Pro Evolution Soccer. However, it’s not entirely clear how well these new rules will be enforced, and we’ve heard similar promises before. If it goes well and is actually enforced, it could serve as a model for the rest of the country. But will it be enforced? We’re crossing our fingers, but we’re not holding our breath.
[Beijing Times via Sina Tech]