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MPAA celebrates new film agreement with China

A new deal with China will enable U.S. film companies to distribute more movies in that country, and studio execs hope this will lead to a drop in Web piracy.

Greg Sandoval/CNET

China's government has raised the cap on the number of U.S. movies it allows to be screened in that country each year, according to the White House and the six major Hollywood film studios.

Negotiations between the U.S. and China have also yielded an agreement that will put a greater share of box-office revenues into the hands of U.S. filmmakers. This is only a marginal technology story because of the implications it has on online piracy.

The tech sector has long blasted Hollywood for not making films and TV shows more accessible at a more affordable price. That is exactly what the film sector says it is doing in China, says the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the studios' trade group.

U.S. film companies once received 13 percent of ticket revenues, but in the future they'll get 25 percent. China will now allow U.S. companies to distribute 50 percent more movies in its theaters.

I haven't been able to find out yet if there's any language in the agreement that calls for China to crack down on Web piracy. The MPAA has long identified China as one of the countries that allows intellectual property theft to flourish.

A representative for the MPAA said the studios are confident the new agreement will mean China's movie fans will choose to watch movies in theaters rather than obtain them illegally.

The studios have focused lately on fighting piracy outside U.S. borders. On Wednesday, an extradition hearing is scheduled for Kim Dotcom, founder of MegaUpload, a well-known cyberlocker. The U.S. claims MegaUpload was a criminal enterprise designed to make DotCom and his associates rich through criminal copyright violations, and they seek to bring him to this country for trial.

DotCom has denied any wrongdoing and is expected to fight the extradition.