At first sight, Mr. Liao appears to be thin with white hair, and one cannot imagine that he is a theater and multiplex mogul in Taiwan. However, when approaching him, you will find that his vigor is not less than that of a youth, and seldom does he slow down, always holding a mobile phone rapidly handling the business.
Dare not Retire Earlier than Wang Yongqing
“In my day, it was easier for us to startup business since anything had not developed and the chance was relatively more. When I was young, I did many things, for example, selling popsicles and sugarcoated berries. I built up the theater from nothing, putting up advertisements, washing toilets and so on. Now I have operated the theater for more than 40 years and owned at least 100 theatres. The procedure is not even, but we need try best to do well in what we are engaged. I have never stopped my business.” When talking about the experience of setting up business, Liao Zhide was full of high morale.
It is starting from scratch that makes Liao Zhide continue to work until now. “Wang Yongqing jokingly called me ‘little boy’. He has not retired at the age of 90.How can I retire earlier than him?” Liao Zhide always uses Wang Yongqing as his example. “The old gentleman Wang dedicates himself to serving society in that he is aware of his responsibility to society. The demand of one person is not very much, but when bearing the responsibility of a whole society, you have to responsibly work with the attitude of society and never stop. You have to raise many families, since their means of livelihood depend on your enterprises.”
Being Duty Bound to Join the Taiwan Association for Copyright Protection
“It was proposed that I become the chief executive of the Taiwan Association for Copyright Protection (hereinafter referred to as the association) because it seems that I am senior in age. In addition, the competent department also approved the proposition. Despite the old age, it is quite unobjectionable to give service to everyone.” Liao Zhide said at ease. However, it is not easy to be the chief executive of the association for him, because apart from the chief executive and operating his own big career, Liao Zhide also has so many social identities, such as vice chairperson of Coordination Committee across the Taiwan Straits, and the executive supervisor of Taiwan Business Association.
“It is necessary to have the credibility for being the chief executive. Because of credibility and reliability, I was recommended to take charge of the association. And my employees and the secretary general of the association are all well trained.” Liao Zhide said with pride and confidence.
With the developing exchange between Taiwan and mainland and the signature of The IPR protection Cooperation Agreement between Two Sides of Taiwan Strait (hereinafter referred to as Agreement), we further understand the themes of the association. In 2004, for the reason that the copyright sense was not clear in Taiwan, nine associations concerning copyright and other industries engaged in video and publishing announced the establishment of the association.
As the second chief executive of the Association, Liao Zhide introduced it just as talking about his own children. “The membership dues are not enough for the operation, so I have to pay out of my own pocket sometimes. Although the salary is not high, we all do not care about it. That is why the Association can be accredited and regarded as the best association in Taiwan by the masses and the competent department. We are a non-profit association supervised by the competent department. The term of office of the chief executive is four years, and is only renewable once. I have the view that the most important thing is to perfect the current system so that the following members can deal with kinds of problems easily. For instance, the signature of Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) set up a platform for further and better communication between Taiwan and mainland.”
Anti-piracy should Begin with Enlightening the Public
It is the task of the Association to enhance the copyright consciousness of the public, and strengthen the respect for copyright of people at all levels of society. However, what cannot avoid is that almost all of the information can be downloaded directly through the internet because of the rapid development of technology, which results in the rampancy of piracy, thus, the piracy on literary and artistic is particularly serious. Nevertheless, the related regulations prescribed by the competent department are not always timely, so the filmmakers should make two tactical preparations and rely on themselves to fight against piracy.
Talking shop all the time, Liao Zhide is rather sensitive to film copyright protection. “The whole world’s filmmakers are bothered by copyright piracy, and have been busy finding effective solutions. The emergence of three-dimensional movies is aimed at preventing piracy, as it is impossible to see a movie clearly without going to the cinema, and I believe three-dimensional movies will be prevailing within a few years. It is said that Hollywood has been increasing the investment in 3D movie research. If not, their movies will be pirated easily, which results in terrible losses. DVD REPLACEMENT will be burned after film projection, and the income of selling DVDs is several times of that from cinemas. If the pilfer DVDs run amuck, imagine as a result, the genuine DVDs find no way to survive. Most horribly, driven by the huge profits, film bootlegging groups will try every possible way to make pilfered DVDs, no matter through what channels.”
As the saying goes “villains can always outsmart”, although a burgeoning technology could prevent piracy for a while, film-bootlegging groups will find new ways. Therefore, it is most important to eliminate a buyers’ market of piracy, and educate the public to resist the pirated products, helping them to establish the idea of observing the laws.
Movie Users have Obligation to Pay
Copyright collective management is carried out around the world. However, disputes over the charge of copyright are lingering in our ears. About such questions as whether the related organization should not be charging and what the rate of copyright is, each side persists in its own views.
“We need to develop the sense that movie users have the obligation to pay.” Liao Zhide reiterated, “Apart from other initial investments, the expense investors paid to invite a singer or movie star is very large, so it is justified for the users to pay some appropriate cost.”
As to the charge rate, Liao Zhide held the view that whether the competent department should be involved in order to achieve a balance is worth thinking about. As an investor, one must spend a lot of money on filmmaking or record making and so on. Therefore, it is necessary for him to get some charge, even if only recover the cost, for better cycle development in future. Japan does pretty well on this side; the charge it gets from the copyright is as much as EUR 7~8 billion (about 70~80 billion Yuan). Moreover, the Japanese people have a good sense of copyright. Liao Zhide said, “Most important of all, improve the public’s copyright sense. As for the rate of charge, it is decided by every member in the association.”
He added, “The rate of charge, which should be measured by the input costs, varies from movie to movie and from area to area. For instance, the ticket price of Hollywood film Avatar is 120~180 Yuan on the mainland, while, that of other low-budget films is only 40~50 Yuan. At this moment, I should emphasize again that we must pay. Every association would set down its own rate of charge in accordance with the local conditions and laws. In Taiwan, the rate of charge is decided by every member through meeting discussions, then examined and approved by the review committee consisting of various academics and specialists. My main task is to meditate disputes between filmmakers and consumers. The essence of the association is to serve its members, and it is a communication platform.”
Copyright Cooperation between Two Sides is under Heavy Responsibility and a Long Way
Liao Zhide is quite willing to do something for the communication between two sides. He laughed, “I can but be a volunteer for the old age. Now, the communication between two sides has been strengthening, which is of great significance.” Form the speech and expression of Liao Zhide, it is not difficult to detect that he has thoughts and feelings on the 3rd Seminar of Copyright Protection between Two Sides (hereinafter referred to as the Seminar).
“This is only the first step, so there must be some problems in the future. Just like the development of iphone, following the first generation, the second generation will be more advanced through improvement, then the third generation…. Based on the Agreement, we can facilitate cross-straits cooperation in combating crimes, and if there are some specific problems, we can further amend it. The Seminar was held in Beijing this year, then Taibei next year. We shall invite governors to take part. The communication can deepen the understanding between us, and help to solve the problems. In fact, the laws of two sides are much the same. The creators spend countless energy and money in making art works, which is pirated by bootlegging groups in a split second. Such practice is not tolerated even in the whole world. Especially the U.S, according to the Special 301, which frequently puts the mainland and Taiwan on the Watch lists, regarding piracies that are most serious in these areas and it badly hurts our image. With the joining the ECFA this year, the image of our country has been promoted and strengthened, and so does the law-abiding awareness of citizens. In a word, there is a long way to go in the future; we should go systematically.
More Afraid to Stop for Anti-counterfeiting
China IP: Have you set up cinemas on the mainland?
Liao Zhide: No, the present outbound investments mainly lie in Hong Kong and Macao. However, we shall set up cinemas on the mainland in the future as far as the agreement is reached. In addition, there are lots of optimum conditions and opportunities, such as the signature of ECFA, the huge market space of the mainland, the large population in secondary and tertiary cities of the mainland. By comparison, the development space in Taiwan is not too large.
China IP: As an operator of cinema, do you need to buy copyright? In addition, would you be afraid of being infringed? For this, what would you do to copy with?
Liao Zhide: We do not need to worry about copyright since the filmmakers will take actions on preventing piracy as soon as the films are finished. Nevertheless, we have to cooperate with them; after all, we are standing on the same side of a divide-united.
China IP: Are there any strategies for anti-counterfeiting in Taiwan?
Liao Zhide: The showing of good films in Taiwan keeps pace with that in the U.S. owing to the fact that the pirated versions of a movie will be sold on the market in two weeks. I think the mainland shall take this measure in the future. Piracy once was very serious in Taiwan, but now things have been getting better and better. It is extremely important and urgent to educate the public, helping them to enhance the law awareness.
China IP: Does the basic education curriculum in Taiwan include an IP protection course?
Liao Zhide: Not yet at present. However, public education courses include such contents as teaching the students to follow the law. With the development of society, I am sure anti-piracy will be listed in textbook in future.
China IP: What is the nature of Taiwan Association for Copyright Protection?
Liao Zhide: As the biggest and most qualified association in Taiwan, its members cover every field of cultural circles, such as filmdom, music, screen, book, and software. The association is non-governmental and a free service for the public.
China IP: There are many members in the Taiwan Association for Copyright Protection, with an elaborate division of management, my question is, is there any chance for conflicts to arise between them, and how to solve the conflicts?
Liao Zhide: No, it would not happen. They are professional and qualified, having their own commission, doing their own jobs. For example, the committees of movie, such as Li Xing, Zhu Yanping or Hou Xiaoxian, all have a high public credibility. Their judgments can be convinced by people of Taiwan, because Taiwan is smaller than mainland, if something happens, any person inside might know everything soon.
China IP: What is the significance of the IPR Protection Cooperation Agreement between Two Sides of Taiwan Strait in practice, and what will be the effects upon the two sides IPR protection?
Liao Zhide: The most important significance of this agreement is to build a communication platform for the two sides of IPR protection, and very helpful to crackdown on copyright piracy. The signature of the Agreement is just the first step; the road ahead of us is still long and our tasks formidable.