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Pirates Big Oscar Winners in China

Posted by: Dexter Roberts on February 23, 2009

As the Oscars were announced at the 81st Academy Awards Sunday evening in Los Angeles with titles like Slumdog Millionaire and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button nabbing multiple honors, in China’s big cities it was basically business as usual in the trade of pirated DVD’s.

Indeed, touts on the streets in Beijing and Shanghai have been selling these Oscar-winning titles and others like The Reader for as cheap as 5 yuan (just under $1) for the past several weeks. That’s the case even as these films have yet to be released in China’s theaters.

It’s interesting to see that the trade continues unabated, especially given that authorities have shown their willingness—and crucially the ability—to crack down before. During the August 2008 Beijing Olympics markets that had done a brisk business in pirated DVDs were shut down and the streets magically were cleared of the usually omnipresent disc sellers. But it was back to business as usual when the Games closed in late August.

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