BEIJING, Dec. 8 (Xinhua) -- Internet piracy has been a chronic problem hindering the development of China's dynamic digital industry, but it is finally subsiding as a result of tightened government control and heightened copyright awareness in the business circle.
The Chinese government has long been promoting the use of authorized software, a move that has greatly helped improve the Internet piracy situation, said Han Jun, deputy director of the Technology Department of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.
The pre-installed rate of authorized operating systems in factory-produced computers in China reached 98.08 percent in 2010, and the rate for some companies like Lenovo and Acer had hit 100 percent, according to Han.
Huang Yaohui, Adobe's general manager of the Greater China Region, said that the usage rate of authorized Adobe software in China has continuously increased thanks to the government's copyright protection efforts.
Statistics from the China-based Internet Laboratory show that an average machine's quantity of installed pirated software dropped about 10 percent from 0.78 set in 2009 to 0.7 set in 2010. The overall installation rate of pirated software dropped from 14 percent in 2009 to 12 percent in 2010.
Yu Tao, a manager with the Chinese online services company Sohu.com Inc., said a turning point in China's online video industry came in 2008 when Internet companies began to step up copyright purchasing.
The online copyright for a TV series was sold for 2,000-3,000 yuan (314-471 U.S. dollars) per episode several years ago, but the price has surged to 1.5-1.7 million yuan today, Yu said.
Fang Xingdong, president of the Internet Laboratory, said the use of pirated software has seen a significant decrease during the last five to six years, and the operating system situation is almost on the same level as in the United States.
Fang attributed the anti-piracy achievements to the government's efforts which have intensified steadily since China ascended to the WTO in 2001.
During the first three years after entering the WTO, China managed to eliminate the use of illegal software in central, provincial and municipal governments, said Wang Zhicheng, deputy director of the copyright department of the State Copyright Bureau.
The government has also gradually tightened measures against enterprises using pirated software.
Meanwhile, Fang said drops in software prices and increases in people's income in recent years have also facilitated the development of China's copyright industry.
"Spending hundreds of yuan on software once sounded unacceptable to many, but now it is becoming affordable for more and more people, so the need for illegal software has been reduced," Fang said.
Software sales totaled 1.3 trillion yuan in 2010, up 40 percent year-on-year. The software piracy rate dropped from 28 percent in 2009 to 24 percent in 2010, according to statistics released by the Internet Laboratory.
Fang said software services have been improved by the government, and Chinese citizens can now enjoy free access to about 80 percent of the software, which has also helped ease the problem of Internet piracy.
In addition to government efforts, Chinese Internet service companies are also feeling the urge to protect copyrights in order to achieve sustainable and healthy development.
Internet companies have been stepping up cooperation with movie producers in an effort to offer more authorized movies to Internet users.
Sohu teamed up with Warner Bros. in 2009 to launch a movie section on its website where Internet users can watch 100 movies by Warner Bros. for free. Later, Sohu also established cooperative relationships with Disney and 20th Century Fox.
Founded in 2004, video-based letv.com has been sticking to purchasing authorized videos, and the website now boasts China's largest authorized video library with over 50,000 TV series and 4,000 movies.
China's major video websites are currently investing 400-500 million yuan per year on copyright, Yu Tao said.
Zhang Chaoyang, CEO of Sohu, said, on the one hand, websites' heightened copyright awareness can benefit the movie industry economically and, on the other hand, authorized videos can bring more income to the websites by attracting advertisers.