Copyright protection in China

As China chose its new leaders, the country again demanded the world’s attention. Even Amazon is reportedly preparing to finally launch Kindle in the Middle Kingdom. Understandably, among those rushing to grab a share of the Chinese market are established and self-proclaimed representatives of the world’s publishing and writing industries. Yet there is no doubt that everyone has the same question in their minds: Is the problem of piracy really as bad in China as it is rumored in the West? What should I do if my work is pirated? Just blame it on bad luck?

The American way to solve this problem is to launch a series of trade sanctions against China. The message is clear: Unless the Chinese Government can stop its people from conducting the criminal act of copyright violation, the whole country will be deemed a pirate by the international society. However, in recent days there has been one Chinese official who dared to stand up against this “bullying”. Tian Lipu, head of China’s State Intellectual Property Office, claimed that it is unfair and immoral for Western nations such as the United States to attempt restricting China’s commercial development by political means.

According to Tian, Western media have long been deliberately smearing China’s global image. “China’s image overseas is very poor. As soon as people hear China, they think of piracy and counterfeiting,” he said. “We don’t deny [this problem], and we are continuing to battle against it.”

However, Tian insisted that other facts about China’s achievements in this regard have been ignored by the West. “For example, China is the world’s largest payer for patent rights, for trademark rights, for royalties, and one of the largest for buying real software. We pay the most. People rarely talk about this, but it really is a fact. Our government offices, our banks, our insurance companies, our firms… the software is all real,” he announced.

More importantly, if Western companies were so worried about piracy in China, they would never choose to set up operational bases in that country. “Of the goods made for Apple Inc., most are made in China. Once Apple’s brand is added to it and it is exported to the United States, its value doubles,” he said. “This could only happen because China’s intellectual property rights environment sets foreign investors at ease, allowing them to come to China to manufacture.”

Tian’s argument is certainly valid, and no one should deny China’s efforts in combating piracy and protecting intellectual property rights of both domestic and foreign citizens. However, Tian may have neglected an important fact himself — paying for the aforementioned rights, royalties and proper software is a basic obligation, something that is so fundamental that it puts China on the starting point of this global race to tackle and eliminate piracy. Now China needs to catch up.

China has already established a series of well-designed laws and regulations to protect intellectual property rights. Now it needs to catch up to the international society in enforcing them — to participate in global legal networks and track down those criminals hiding across political and geographical borders, to promote and enforce within China the concept of respecting other people’s intellectual property rights, and to severely punish all those pirates and destroy their counterfeit goods.

Tian knows where the counterfeit markets are in China and admitted openly that local people use and buy pirated goods. Now, as that country’s top official in charge of fighting copyright piracy, all he needs to do is to show some concrete results in cracking down these markets. Particularly in relation to China’s (digital) publishing industry, the Chinese Government’s resolve and show of force in combating piracy will considerably benefit all the legitimate publishers, authors and readers. It will no doubt comfort those international publishers and authors who truly want to share their literary achievements with their Chinese counterparts.

Instead of embracing a culture of “cheap copying”, or Shanzhai, or considering “Shanzhaiism” as a form of domestic entrepreneurship, China needs to find its own original way. Such originality is not and will never be cheap, and its people need to be encouraged — and even forced — to adopt the attitude of paying for quality. Look at it this way — to respect other people’s intellectual property rights is to confirm that we have our own values. We know who we are, and that is why we can draw the line between what belongs to us and what belongs to the others. If China continues to allow its people to pirate other people’s goods, then to some degree it is denying the values of its people as individuals. In the same way that a pirated book should be trashed, a country without originality can never stand up on its own.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Shanahan
    Nov 21, 2012 @ 06:52:47

    Whats upward! I simply choose to give a great thumbs up to the great knowledge you’ve in this article on this write-up. I will more likely be coming for a second time to your website soon.


    • Kim
      Dec 16, 2012 @ 19:07:33

      This entire topic is conufsing. Both parties are right on their slant of this issue, kind of. Internet companies already use online restriction to sites. Have you ever seen the little yellow bar at the top? My Internet firewall, Norton, would over power my web browser because the site that I was using wasn\’t legitimate, or so Norton deemed so. I would have to rework my settings in my firewall and computer to allow me to Accept, the access to the site, which could cause viruses to my computer. And of course it did. I know that this sounds like a conspiracy, but this is true for Hewlett Packard (I know from experience). The computer is ruined within a year of using the web browser for illegal downloading, then in a year I have to purchase a new one. I can guarantee that if American\’s were not allowed to use our computer\’s for what we want, we would not be able to put so much on it and ruin the hardware. In turn, I can guarantee there will be a drop in sales with consumer grade computers. So, I am interested in what computer companies have to say about this problem. But on the other hand, free speech online? That\’s hardly the problem. That\’s just sugar coating the issue. The problem is people not making enough money. They don\’t care what you say or how you say it. You can say what you want, you can download what you want, you can look at what you want, but there\’s a price for everything. If you build it, they will come. What\’s going to happen from all this is internet companies are going to jack up the prices, (more than the prices they are raping us with now), and then everyone can be happy. Its going to be like advertising companies and web browsers. The companies will keep track of computer web browsing, and what your looking at will define a price from internet companies. Thus, if any of the cry baby publishing companies own rights to content, the internet companies will give a portion of their money to those other companies. Its a win-win, and that\’s why we have Occupy Wall Street. Because we the consumer, can\’t get ahead, only major corporations can. Oh, what\’s great about this is, at least they will have an acceptance agreement but who reads those anyway.


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