China jails Americans in DVD piracy case
A Chinese court last week convicted two U.S. citizens for selling pirated motion picture DVDs and sentenced them to jail, marking an important step in cooperation between the two governments in the fight against global counterfeiting.
The Motion Picture Association of America estimates that the U.S. movie industry loses more than $3.5 billion annually in potential worldwide revenue due to trade in counterfeit films.
Randolph Hobson Guthrie III, 38, and Abram Cody Thrush, 30, were arrested in Shanghai last July with help from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency said on its Web site. The Americans and two Chinese accomplices were charged with illegally selling and distributing about 180,000 motion picture DVDs worth more than $840,000 via the Internet in more than 20 nations, including the United States.
The case is the first joint intellectual property rights investigation by ICE agents and Chinese authorities.
The case began when ICE agents purchased counterfeit DVDs at a Mississippi flea market and tracked the origin of the products to China. Chinese authorities seized more than 210,000 fake movie DVDs and about $94,000 in Chinese and U.S. currency. Chinese authorities also located and destroyed three warehouses that were being used to store counterfeit DVDs for distribution, ICE said.
Guthrie was sentenced to 30 months in jail and fined 500,000 Chinese Renminibi ($60,500). Thrush received a one-year sentence and a 10,000 RNB fine. Both men are to be deported after completing their jail terms.
The court sentenced one Chinese accomplice to 15 months in jail and a fine of 10,000 RNB. The second accomplice received a fine.
The U.S. government and business community have been pressing China to take serious steps to clamp down on bootleg manufacturers or face possible restrictions of trading privileges.