IP and Law
Posted by Jeremy Goldkorn on Monday, June 5, 2006 at 3:00 PM
China said yesterday that it would impose fines of as much as 100,000 yuan (US$12,500) on distributors of illegally copied music, movies and other material over the Internet, a move likely to put pressure on search engines like Baidu.com.
On May 31, Sam Flemming posted an article to his Word of Mouth blog about China's Internet stars, titled China 'net stars commercial trend continues.
On June 2, the China Daily's website published an article, credited to Sam Flemming, called Chinese BBStars appeal to commercial trend. The article was a nearly verbatim, unauthororized reproduction of the original blog post, but of course there were no links, and the references to the blog were deleted.
The China Daily newspaper and website are state-owned. Searching for China information on Google often gives China Daily articles in the top ten results, meaning that people abroad with no knowledge of China will often end up on Chinadaily.com.cn. Shouldn't the Ministry of Publicity (née Propaganda) be concerned?
Why does this type of flagrant piracy happen so frequently at the website of China's flagship English language newspaper?
A person who identifies him- or herself as a China Daily insider gave a clue in this comment on a previous Danwei post:
The web-editors are arrogant bastards who know nothing about journalistic standards.
The CD website is an absolute joke, no editorial control and no communication with the print edition. Working at the print edition, I'm totally embarrassed by the idiots who work there ... the paper has its problems, no secrets there, but the website ... does nothing but drag the name of the paper down even further. Mistakes occur in every paper, but if you trawl through a list of China Daily errors of the past couple of years, the majority and the most serious (eg plagiarism) are all on the website, totally beyond the control of the print edition.
There is of course another way to view this:
One of the best things about the Chinese Internet is its freewheeling, anarchic condition. There is a word in Chinese zhuanzai (转载) which means reprint, and is also used on the Internet to mean copying and republishing, invariably without permission. Because of the zhuanzai habit, all kinds of text and media can quickly get distributed on the Internet on hundreds of websites. This happens with news items, blog posts, photos, essays and articles. The content thus republished runs the gamut from pictures of MM (girlie pics) to political debate.
From the point of view of a Chinese Internet user, the zhuanzai habit is mostly good: it makes information much more easily available than if Chinese websites were picky about the source of their content.
But zhuanzai makes it difficult to find authoritative sources, muddies the waters of Internet media business, and results in flagrant violations of intellectual property rights.
As for the China Daily, it is a newspaper and website that is supposed to represent the government and people of China to the international community. The scant attention Chinadaily.com.cn pays to copyright and other conventions does not do the name of the newspaper nor China any good.
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The Eurasian Face : Blacksmith Books, a publishing house in Hong Kong, is behind The Eurasian Face, a collection of photographs by Kirsteen Zimmern. Below is an excerpt from the series:
Big in China: An adapted excerpt from Big In China: My Unlikely Adventures Raising A Family, Playing The Blues and Becoming A Star in China, just published this month. Author Alan Paul tells the story of arriving in Beijing as a trailing spouse, starting a blues band, raising kids and trying to make sense of China.
Pallavi Aiyar's Chinese Whiskers: Pallavi Aiyar's first novel, Chinese Whiskers, a modern fable set in contemporary Beijing, will be published in January 2011. Aiyar currently lives in Brussels where she writes about Europe for the Business Standard. Below she gives permissions for an excerpt.
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+ Korean history doesn't fly on Chinese TV screens (2007.09): SARFT puts the kibbosh on Korean historical dramas.
+ Religion and government in an uneasy mix (2008.03): Phoenix Weekly (凤凰周刊) article from October, 2007, on government influence on religious practice in Tibet.
+ David Moser on Mao impersonators (2004.10): I first became aware of this phenomenon in 1992 when I turned on a Beijing TV variety show and was jolted by the sight of "Mao Zedong" and "Zhou Enlai" playing a game of ping pong. They both gave short, rousing speeches, and then were reverently interviewed by the emcee, who thanked them profusely for taking time off from their governmental duties to appear on the show.