IFPI chief executive Frances Moore has called for stronger "deterrent penalties" for repeat copyright infringers who are hampering the development of China's music industry.

Speaking at a World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) conference in Beijing earlier today (Nov. 18), Moore praised record companies for "offering consumers new ways to access music" but warned that "this alone is not enough to safeguard our future in a world of online piracy."

"We need ISPs to take responsibility for helping protecting online content. The graduated response is an effective, proportionate way to tackle piracy. We need government legislation to achieve that," Moore went on to say, citing the need for music companies, particularly in China, to partner with intermediaries such as telcos, mobile operators and online retailers. Apple iTunes is not yet available in the country.

"Piracy continues to hobble the legitimate music market in China," she said. "What could be the largest market in the world is ranked only number 26."

But Moore says there are hopeful signs and Chinese Minister Liu Bin Jie has invited the IFPI to work with him to help enforce intellectual property rights, and create a legal framework that ensures rights holders are rewarded.

"It has been very encouraging to see signs of interest in moving toward the adoption of performance rights in China," she said. "This would be a huge boost to domestic artists and producers as well as to international investment."

According to the IFPI, approximately 1,500 administrative and 400 civil copyright infringement cases have been filed against copyright infringers in China in the last decade. Their impact of these court cases has, however, been limited, says Moore, due to a lack of deterrent penalties.

"Significant online commercial infringers such as Baidu have been distributing unlicensed music in China. This has been a major obstacle in the way of developing legitimate partnerships between the music industry and China's Internet companies," Moore told guests at the WIPO conference.

Baidu.com Inc., which has faced repeated criticism for allegedly linking to illegal music downloads, dominates the Chinese web search market with a 60% to 70% market share.

Earlier this year, a Chinese court ruled in favor of the search provider following a Feb. 2008 law suit from Sony BMG Music Entertainment (Hong Kong) Ltd., Universal Music Ltd., and Warner Music Hong Kong Ltd, against both Baidu and portal site Soho.com, accusing the two digital services of violating Chinese copyright law. Baidu has also faced lawsuits from the Music Copyright Society of China (MCSC) and music licensing firm R2G over copyright infringement in recent years.