updated 10/20/2006 7:56:02 AM ET 2006-10-20T11:56:02

Nine people convicted of selling illegally copied DVDs and other goods have been jailed for up to 13 years in China's biggest anti-piracy crackdown to date, a news report said Friday.

The sentences were the longest reported since China stepped up penalties for product piracy in mid-2005, imposing jail time in addition to fines that Washington and other governments had complained were inadequate to stop the thriving underground industry.

The latest crackdown was launched July 25 against producers of unlicensed copies of goods ranging from movies and software to designer clothes and sporting goods.

Four people were sentenced to 13 years in prison for producing and selling pirated publications in separate cases in the cities of Ningbo in the east and Xiamen in the southeast, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

The defendant in Xiamen, Wang Guimei, was fined 40,000 yuan ($5,000), Xinhua said.  It didn't give the identities of those convicted in Ningbo.

"The severe punishment demonstrates the government's determination to battle piracy and protect intellectual property," said a statement by the national anti-piracy agency, quoted by Xinhua.

In the eastern city of Qingdao, a defendant was sentenced to two years in prison for selling pirated DVDs and computer software, according to Xinhua.

Elsewhere, two men received one year in prison for selling pirated CDs and DVDs over the Internet, Xinhua said.  Two other defendants received 18- and 8-month sentences and fines of 200,000 yuan ($25,000) and 100,000 yuan ($12,500).

Last month, authorities destroyed nearly 13 million pirated CDs, DVDs and computer software in their campaign, Xinhua said.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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