Saturday, December 30, 2006

Chinese Web Portal Fined for Movie Piracy

BEIJING, Dec. 29 (AP) — A Beijing court has ordered the popular Chinese Web portal to pay $140,000 in damages for distributing Hollywood movies online without permission, the movie industry’s trade group said Friday.

A subsidiary of must also publish an acknowledgment of wrongdoing, the Motion Picture Association said.

A Sohu spokeswoman, Zhang Xin, said the company was aware of the ruling but had no comment.

China is regarded as the world’s leading source of illegally copied movies, software and other goods, despite repeated government promises to stamp out the underground industry. The Motion Picture Association blames piracy in China for costing studios in the United States $244 million in lost box office revenues last year.

The group says Chinese regulators are encouraging a market for pirated movies by allowing only a few dozen foreign titles a year for theatrical release. It said 5 of the 10 movies cited in its lawsuit against Sohu were not released theatrically in China.

According to the MPA, Sohu distributed "Harry Potter" and the "Prisoner of Azkaban," "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring," "S.W.A.T." and other titles in 2004 and 2005 through a subscription download service on its Web site.

In a statement, the Motion Picture Association said it had 35 other lawsuits pending in Chinese courts charging movie piracy.

The Motion Picture Association, based in Los Angeles, is the international arm of the Motion Picture Association of America.

Elder-Care Costs Deplete Savings of a Generation

By Jane Gross
The New York Times
December 30, 2006

To care for her ailing 97-year-old father over the past three years, Elizabeth Rodriguez, a vice president at the Federal Reserve Bank in New York, has borrowed against her 401(k) retirement plan, sold her house on Staten Island and depleted nearly 20 years of savings.

The money has gone to lawyers’ fees ($50,000) to win a contested guardianship. It has gone for home-care equipment like the mattress for his hospital bed (about $3,000 in all) and for a food service to deliver meals ($400 a month).

It has gone for a two-bedroom rental apartment big enough for herself, her dad and a home aide ($1,600 a month more than a one-bedroom apartment in the same building), and for a wheelchair-accessible van to get him to doctors’ appointments ($330 a trip).

Asked to tally the costs, Ms. Rodriguez, 58, said she had no idea how much she was spending. “A shower chair, body cream with no alcohol, new shoes,” she said. “You don’t stop and calculate. You just buy what you have to buy.”

Ms. Rodriguez is among the legion of adult children — more than 15 million, according to various calculations — who take care of their aging parents, a responsibility that often includes paying for all or part of their housing, medical supplies and incidental expenses. Many costs are out of pocket and largely unnoticed: clothing, home repair, a cellular telephone.

Adult children with the largest out-of-pocket expenses are those supervising care long distance, those who hire in-home help and those whose parents have too much money to qualify for government-subsidized Medicaid but not enough to pay for what could be a decade of frailty and dependence.

The burden is compounded by ignorance, according to a study by AARP, released in mid-December, which found that most Americans have no idea how much long-term care costs and believe that Medicare pays for it, when it does not.

Families have always looked after their elderly loved ones. But never has old age lasted so long or been so costly, compromising the retirement of baby boomers who were expecting inheritances rather than the shock of depleted savings.

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