Internet-based copyright infringement is pretty much the only way people can keep track of TV and movies from abroad in Beijing. It's hard to even find legal DVDs, and if there aren't even illegal DVDs to buy, it's often trivially easy to find entire movies on Youku or Tudou.
Yesterday, a Chinese public-security ministry official asked for international help in copyright enforcement, noting that many infringers use Web sites hosted outside Chinese jurisdiction.
"Copyright infringements, by their very nature, are international crimes. To effectively curb such activities, (we) need enhanced international cooperation on law enforcement," said Gao Feng, the official.
I don't doubt that international borders are a challenge for Chinese enforcers, but they certainly could do more here. The illegal streaming versions of movies and TV series from Chinese video sites are even fueling viewers in the United States, where DVDs are no minor investment. The only sacrifices for viewers are the need to wait for buffering and some loss in resolution.
Until legal DVDs or iTunes-like download or rental services are available to the Chinese market, however, I can't imagine that people will stop watching the free or cheap pirated versions.