Malaysia, China among worst piracy offenders

ESA releases report on worldwide software and game piracy; says Chinese offenders are hurting legit game companies in the region.

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Malaysia and China are among the countries pirating the most software, including video games, according to a report from the Entertainment Software Association. The ESA provides a filing each year to the US Trade Representative, which uses it to produce an annual "Special 301" report. This year's Special 301 said Malaysian operations remain the top producers of pirated discs. Malaysian factory-made game and software dubs have been seized in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, the US, and South America.

China was a close second, as its pirated materials there constituted 90 percent of its total software and games market. Many Chinese Internet cafés even offer patrons the use of pirated games and unauthorized servers. That's bad news for Chinese companies attempting to legitimately develop and sell online games, the ESA's report says. "Freeing these markets from the pirates' stranglehold will help empower a local video game economy," said ESA president Doug Lowenstein. Chinese piracy factories also continue to churn out massive numbers of cartridge games.

Now that CD and DVD burners are prevalent in consumer-grade PCs, piracy rates are growing in countries like India, now at 86 percent of its total market; Brazil, at 74 percent; and Saudi Arabia, at 68 percent.

"Despite efforts by the US government over the years, it's déjà vu all over again as these countries ... skirt their global obligations to protect intellectual property," Lowenstein said. "We hope that this year's report will prompt the US to crack down even further."

In some ways, American laws may actually make it easier for pirates to get a leg up. According to an ESA statement released yesterday, "US publishers ... face an arduous content-review process that often takes several months to complete, giving pirates an exclusive distribution window for freshly pirated product that has not gone through such reviews."

A country-by-country analysis of copyright infringement is included in the Special 301 report, which will be available shortly at the International Intellectual Property Alliance Web site. When a country makes it into the report, the US government can impose trade sanctions on the region...once it completes an investigation of the violations.

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