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Cablegate: Ahoy, Matey - Book Pirates Still in Taiwan

VZCZCXRO6494
PP RUEHCN RUEHGH RUEHVC
DE RUEHIN #2005/01 2430932
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 310932Z AUG 07
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6618
INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TAIPEI 002005

SIPDIS

DEPT PASS TO AIT/W
STATE FOR EAP/RSP/TC and EB/TPP/IPE
STATE ALSO PASS USTR FOR BOLLYKY/ALTBACH
US DOC FOR ITA KOREAN/TAIWAN AFFAIRS BRENDA CARTER-NIXON AND
MIKE CHOI

SIPDIS
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KIPR ECON ETRD USTR TW
SUBJECT: AHOY, MATEY - BOOK PIRATES STILL IN TAIWAN

REF: TAIPEI 0001710

TAIPEI 00002005 001.2 OF 002


SUMMARY
-------

1. (U) By nearly all accounts textbook piracy is less rampant and
less visible in Taiwan than it was in the 1990s, but it continues to
be a problem. A recent survey found that over 50 of Taiwan's
college students buy pirated books, but law enforcement officials,
faculty and students say the scale of piracy has decreased and
blatant violations less common. Book publishers, however, point to
declining sales and claim piracy has merely moved underground. Will
the Ministry of Education's IP Action Plan make a difference? End
Summary.

The Good Old Days are Gone
--------------------------

2. (U) The 1990's were golden days for pirated books on Taiwan's
university campuses. Pirated editions of textbooks and
supplementary materials were openly available on and around campus.
Copy shops often kept copied books on hand and provided entire
classes with pirated books. Some professors even supported copying
by providing original material for students to copy. These days are
gone, but still most Taiwan students are buying at least some
pirated versions of books and supplementary materials.

3. (U) Dr. Po-Chung Chuang, an assistant professor of mass
coQunications at Chinese Culture University, conducted a survey on
textbook piracy this past school year. Of the 800 college freshmen
and sophomores from northern Taiwan in the sample, more than half
(50.6 percent) admitted to buying pirated textbooks. Dr. Chuang's
survey found that the vast majority of students who buy pirated
books do so because they believe books are too expensive. A number
of university students around Taipei confirmed to econoff that this
was the case. They wanted to save money, they said, and some
pointed out that Taiwan does not have a system where students can
purchase used books for their classes.

A Moral Question
----------------
4. (U) According to Professor Chuang's survey, almost all students
know that copying texts is illegal, but continue to believe pirating
copyrighted materials is not morally wrong. It is not only students
who share that sentiment. At the August 8th meeting of the Ministry
of Education (MOE) campus IPR working group, one faculty
representative accused the MOE of infringing on academic freedom by
targeting IPR violations at Taiwan universities. When MOE's draft
Intellectual Property Action Plan was announced to the public a
number of professors from prominent universities also harshly
criticized the MOE's plan in a media frenzy. reftel Although the
final plan has not been released, MOE has hinted that it will
substantially weaken the plan in the face of this strong public
reaction.

Piracy Level Dropping...
------------------------

5. (U) Informal conversations with students reveal a particular
pattern of piracy. All of the students who spoke with econoff had
at some point purchased pirated material. They noted however, that
today the vast majority of students purchase legitimate copies of
the course primary textbook, but are much more likely to buy pirated
versions of solution manuals, workbooks, and books that are hard to
find in campus bookstores. Dr. Chuang agreed, telling econoff
students usually buy legitimate editions of books they value and
expect to use in the future. Interestingly, Chuang believes that
because many professors are now using Chinese-language textbooks
instead of more expensive English-language textbooks, students are
better able to afford the books.

...And the Intellectual Property Police Want Some Credit
--------------------------------------------- -----

6. (SBU) Taiwan IP Police Squadron Leader Stephen Su said increased
police enforcement and raids have greatly reduced the amount of
physical copying on and around campuses. In his opinion, on-campus
shops violate IPR laws much less frequently now. He admits there are
still off-campus copy shops with underground operations, but he
thinks this in itself means there has been a decrease in activity.


7. (U) Raids conducted across Taiwan in March of 2007, for example,
found little printed material in off-campus copy shops, but did
discover some electronic source files for books. Squadron Leader Su
said copy shops no longer keep pirated material in stock, only

TAIPEI 00002005 002.2 OF 002


printing it when ordered. The IP Police have seen an increase in the
number of electronic book files available for illegal download, and
believe that shops are now printing selections and course-packs for
students from electronic source files.

...but Publishers' Sales Still Falling
--------------------------------------

8. (SBU) Golden Hong, Taiwan Book Publishers' Association (TBPA)
Chairperson and Pearson Education's Vice President for North Asia,
told AIT that member publishers continue to see declining textbook
sales in all categories, and believe this is largely due to
continued piracy. He is satisfied with the efforts of the
Intellectual Property Police and said that increased enforcement,
has forced shops underground, making it only appear that the
situation has improved. He believes shops now establish orders
through representatives on campus and standing student
relationships, then deliver books directly to customers. TBPA's
evidence for this, however, is only anecdotal. Hong said that when
shops operate under this model, pirated books are only exposed to
detection for a short period of time, leaving little chance for
police or rights-holders to pursue the copiers. TBPA declined
econoff's request to be shown one of these shops, suggesting instead
that we ask students or police to point out these difficult-to-find
shops. What needs to happen, he says, is for professors to ban
pirated books from their classrooms, rather than increased
enforcement.

9. (SBU) IP Police Squadron Leader Su admitted that there are limits
to what the IP Police can do to crack down on book piracy. Due to
the limits in their search powers, they can only raid shops after a
complaint from the rightsholder. He added, however, that if the TBPA
believes underground shops are a major problem, book publishers need
to be more active in helping the IP Police locate the shops, like
the music and film industries have been in locating DVD factories.


COMMENT
-------

10. (SBU) Although the golden days for book pirates may have passed,
students are still purchasing pirated books in large numbers. An
effective IP action plan from the Ministry of Education and
participation from rightsholders will be key in addressing the
problem. Unless the MOE is prepared to create incentives for
universities to take action expect very little change. End
Comment.

Wang

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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