Hollywood sees win in China WTO case as first step

Fri Aug 14, 2009 4:59pm EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Sue Zeidler

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Hollywood scored a win with the World Trade Organization as it seeks inroads into China, but rampant piracy in the market means the WTO ruling is just a first step in a long slog for the U.S. entertainment industry.

The WTO said China broke international trade rules by restricting the imports of movies, music and books and other audiovisual content. The current system hinders studios, filmmakers, musicians, videogame makers and authors from marketing works at competitive prices, it said.

China has said it will evaluate the decision and had not ruled out an appeal.

Hollywood has sought for years to crack the world's third-largest economy, but has failed due to restrictions on getting films into theaters and a torrent of pirated media content, with DVDs going for $1 on most street corners.

The ruling was a landmark decision 10 years in the making, said Greg Frazier, executive vice president of the Motion Picture Association of America, representing the world's largest studios like Walt Disney Co and Time Warner Inc's Warner Bros.

But he said it was unlikely to yield quick results.

"Nothing in China is right around the corner except for pirated DVDs," Frazier said in an interview.

"This is a major change, but it will not change things overnight," said Richard Doherty, analyst with Envisioneering.   Continued...

<p>Shopkeepers wait for customers at a store selling pirated DVDs in Beijing April 24, 2007. REUTERS/Claro Cortes IV</p>