Yep, you read that right: "The pirated discs peddled is illegal publication" - I saw that notice last week just outside the Yashao market downtown. (See the picture on the right.)
First of all: There are no places here where you can rent DVDs. No Netflix, no Blockbusters, no "videotheek". You only have those "illegal DVD" stores where everyone buys a couple bootlegged copies of America's latest movies for about about 10-15 kuai ($1.50 to $2.00). And where can one find those illegal stores? Well, they are simply inside a supermarket or shopping mall and definitely not hidden at all. If it wasn't for the "pirated discs peddled" signs, I would not know it was illegal.
Second of all: If you are interested in some nice new clothes of a famous brand, come shop at the market I mentioned before. Yashao is full of fake and (according to the sales people) real clothes of well-known brands. You can find a Columbia jacket for maybe $25, or Uggs for $30. (OK, that is the price I paid, and I probably paid too much -- still learning how to negotiate a good price...)
Apparently anything you want can be copied in China. Want a woolen sweater? Go to the wool spinners market and show your design (e.g. an old sweater you like), and they'll make it for you. Want a painting on the wall? How about a copy of a Van Gogh? Need a new skirt? Just go to any tailor and show a picture you just cut out of Vogue. Want a neckless? Just pick a design or bring or buy your own beads and they'll put it together on the spot for less than you pay at H&M.
Pretty neat. If you are planning to come to Beijing, I suggest you start cutting things out of the Cosmopolitan :-)
Here are some quick pictures of the market. Note that this "market" is all indoors, with a lot of tiny stalls inside one big building.