BEIJING, March 14 (Xinhua) -- Taobao.com, China's leading B2C (business-to-consumer) website, announced on Monday that it will launch a major campaign to stop online piracy and counterfeiting. The move comes after the site was labeled as a "notorious market" by selling products that violate intellectual copyright protection.
The campaign, according to the website, will be joined by 89 international brands including LV, Gucci and Apple.
Last year, taobao.com deleted more than 5.7 million products involved in copyright infringement. However, while acknowledging the website's efforts, the Office of the United States Trade Representative was still not satisfied with the results.
In a February report entitled "Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets," the agency listed taobao.com as one of the online retailers that "exemplify key challenges in the global struggle against piracy and counterfeiting."
"Taobao's online copyright protection campaign will be launched regularly in the future. Once a case of selling pirated or counterfeited products is confirmed, we will immediately blacklist the seller and ban it from opening an outlet on the website," Qiao Beirui, a public relations principal with taobao.com, told Xinhua Monday.
According to Qiao, the website will also organize a special team responsible for checking piracy and counterfeiting.
In January, a group opposed to online piracy and counterfeiting, which was set up by more than 20 Internet companies, began operations.
The group has so far received more than 7,000 complaints, all of which occurred at taobao.com and involved more than 400 brands, according to group leader Huang Xiangru.
If left uncontrolled, counterfeit products and piracy on the Internet will severely harm the interests of hundreds of millions of online consumers and eventually damage the credibility of the Internet and the country, experts warned.
In this year's government work report, Premier Wen Jiabao said that the country would develop e-commerce, online shopping, geographical information and other new services in 2011.
Wen stressed that the government would go to greater lengths to crack down on intellectual copyright infringement and fake and shoddy products.
Urging quicker legislation in the field of e-commerce, many law experts noted that the country's current legislation and judicial regulations cannot be completely applied to online selling of pirated and shoddy products.
Lawyer Chen Baolong said that stronger supervision and management is of the greatest importance in order to root out online piracy.
"For taobao.com, they should conduct investigations and set up records for all online sellers, follow a register and checkup system and closely monitor the quality of products sold. On the other hand, the police should keep collecting evidence on online piracy each day and impose punishments on violators in a timely fashion," Chen said.
By the end of 2010, China had some 457 million internet users, the most in the world.
Figures from the China Internet Network Information Center show that 161 million Chinese citizens used the Internet to buy products last year, up 41.6 percent year on year.
Meanwhile, the China Internet Illegal Information Reporting Center received nearly 400,000 complaints last year, 23.8 percent of which pertained to online fraud.
In addition to efforts from the governments and sellers, customers were also advised to exercise caution in online shopping.
"If every consumer can remain clear-headed in front of the temptations of low-price international brands and be fully aware of intellectual copyright and self-protection, all the pirated and counterfeit products will have no way out -- even in a virtual world," Chen said.