Earlier this year, SARFT issued a circular requiring all online audio-video providers to obtain licenses. In September of this year, SARFT re-emphasized license policies for internet audio-video program operators. By November, SARFT had closed 414 illegal audio-video program websites that were either operating without licenses, contained obscene programs, or utilized pirated content.
Officials from SARFT noted that due to the potential for serious damage to the online audio-video industry caused by illegal a/v websites, SARFT will continue to investigate illegal sites. By December 9, 2009, approximately 530 networks, including three top Bit Torrent [BT] websites: http://www.ydy.com, www.btchina.net, and www.uubird.com, had been closed down.
The aforementioned three BT websites represent the most popular a/v downloading sites in the country. Internet users, having installed free BT software on their computers, are able to download audio-video programs free of charge from such websites at a relatively fast speed. In recent years, BT websites have become one of the major channels for broadcasting pirate audio-video programs.
The crackdown on such BT audio & video networks is expected to have a serious impact on the entire online audio-video program industry. Yet, even for those online audio-video sharing websites that have obtained proper licensing for online broadcasting, copyright issues remain a serious issue.