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April 30, 2010

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Bootleg DVDs harder to find

SHANGHAI retail stores that specialize in bootleg DVDs are, well, getting the boot - and some are finding ways to carry on regardless.

While the pirated DVDs are popular with residents and tourists alike, the fact remains that they are in breach of intellectual copyright laws.

In the lead-up to the start of the World Expo tomorrow, city authorities have mounted a blitz against all pirated products and DVDs are definitely in the crosshairs.

The Expo is providing a world stage for displaying state-of-the-art technology and advocates IPR protection.

Patrons who had been buying DVDS from an outlet on downtown Weihai Road for many years have done a double take in recent months.

For all intents and purpose their favorite DVD haunt has been turned into a cafe.

Then a staffer approaches and explains with a wink and a nudge "Up there," pointing to the second floor.

"This is because of the World Expo," said a young woman who works there."We are definitely still in business and our old patrons soon realize this."

Shanghai Daily discovered that the store is typical of those that have improvised via back rooms or upper floors.

Stores like the Weihai Road outlet have a devoted following because of their large supplies of movies, including new releases.

Their dilemma is whether they can survive for the six-month duration of the Expo.

Some DVD stores have been forced to close amid the crackdown, meaning extra business for areas that are not so strictly policed.

"I have gained a lot of new customers ... they said they couldn't find stuff in downtown places," said a bootleg DVD seller, surnamed Wu.

'Safer here'

She has operated the business for seven years, with legitimate films on display as a front. When customers ask, Wu produces pirated DVDs from under the counter.

"It's much safer to sell DVDs here," said another shop owner along the street who requested anonymity.

"Urban management officers are too busy chasing sellers of illegal mobile phones to worry about us."

Shanghai police said the market for bootleg DVDS was thankfully shrinking as a direct result of the crackdown.

"The situation is improving," said Tang Xiliang, deputy director of the Shanghai police economic crime investigation team, adding that catching offenders had proved challenging.

"Some of these people carry trolleys to sell everywhere."


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