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Author’s right or Copyright: The Melting Pot of China’s Copyright Law


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Donnie Dong will discuss his research on the justification of copyright protection in China. He will review the Chinese legislative history of copyright protection during the past hundred years, and draw the conclusion that the Chinese copyright law has been, and still is, justified with the utilitarian approach. He thinks that this characteristic, rather than the difference between the respective legal systems, may be one of the reasons that cause the continous collision between the US copyright law and its Chinese counterpart in future.

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Author’s right or Copyright: The Melting Pot of China’s Copyright Law

  1. 1. Author’s right or Copy right: The Melting Pot of China’s Copyright Law Hao Dong, Donnie Fellow, Berkman Center for Internet and Society [email_address]
  2. 2. Who is the Dominant One? John Locke Jeremy Bentham Confucius karl Marx
  3. 3. [a] page of history is worth a volume of logic . -- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
  4. 4. Ancient China <ul><li>It has been proved that the highly reinforced dictatorship and the Neo-Confucianism jointly hindered the forming of the western concept of exclusive copyright in ancient China . </li></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>(1909~2009) </li></ul>
  6. 6. The Qing Empire <ul><li>Treaties between the US/Japan &China </li></ul><ul><li>Only protect the US/Japan works specially created for Chinese readers; only protect the registered books. </li></ul><ul><li>Zheng v. Dingxin Bookstore </li></ul><ul><li>1910 Copyright Act: The first legislation  No moral rights; No right to translation. It is merely an urgent struggle to avoid collapse </li></ul><ul><li>The Imperial Regime died in 1911. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Republic of China (Beijing) <ul><li>1915 Copyright Act of ROC (Peking): </li></ul><ul><li>A copy of Qing’s last legislation: Registration </li></ul><ul><li>War, War, War ... </li></ul>
  8. 8. Republic of China (Nanking) <ul><li>1929 Copyright Act of ROC (Nanking ) :  Registration; no moral rights </li></ul><ul><li>War , War, War ... </li></ul><ul><li>1944 Amendments (Chungking) :  Registration; no moral rights </li></ul><ul><li>War , War, War ... </li></ul><ul><li>1948 Amendments (Nanking) :  Registration; no moral rights </li></ul>
  9. 9. Republic of China (Taiwan) <ul><li>1964 Amendments (Taipei) :  Registration; no moral rights </li></ul><ul><li>1985 Amendments (Taipei) :  Automatic Protection, moral rights  No registration no inheritance / right transfer </li></ul><ul><li>1990 Amendments  Automatic Protection </li></ul><ul><li>1992 ... 11 times ... April 2009 </li></ul>
  10. 10. The Maoist Notion <ul><li>In the world today, all culture, all literature and art belong to definite classes and are geared to definite political lines. There is in fact no such thing as art for art's sake, art that stands above classes or art that is detached from or independent of politics. </li></ul><ul><li>-- Speech at the Yan'an Forum on Literature and Art (May 2, 1942, Yan’an) </li></ul>
  11. 11. People’s Republic of China <ul><li>1950 ~ 1957: tried to draft a copyright law </li></ul><ul><li>1957: “remain of bourgeois rights” </li></ul><ul><li>1957 ~ 1970s (era of isolationism) </li></ul><ul><li>“ [literature and arts are] powerful weapons for uniting and educating the people and for attacking and destroying the enemy.” – Mao </li></ul><ul><li>“ [intellectuals are] friends”, and gradually “became a part of working class.” - Zhou </li></ul><ul><li>Incentives: Fixed Remuneration & Wages No Exclusive right </li></ul>
  12. 12. PRC, after 1978 <ul><li>1982: Foreign Investment Laws, for ... Satisfy Sino-US Treaty (1979) and attract foreign investments </li></ul><ul><li>1984: Temporal Ordinance of Copyright; and 1986: General Principles of Civil Law, for ... Join GATT (failed in 1994) </li></ul><ul><li>1990: Promulgation of Copyright Law, for ... Join Berne Convention (1992) </li></ul>
  13. 13. PRC, after 1990 <ul><li>2001: Amendments to Copyright Law, for... Become WTO Member (2001) </li></ul><ul><li>2006: Regulation on Rights of Making Works Available Online, for ... Ratify WCT, WPPT (2007) </li></ul>
  14. 14. The Multiple Foreign Impacts
  15. 15. Identity and Incentives to Authors Identity Rewards Intellectuals Ancient China Honors and social status Brainworkers Communist Era Wages and remuneration Authors Opening-up Exclusive rights to “authorize” and royalties. Not the “right to do ...”
  16. 16. Conclusion <ul><li>Chinese traditional social and political structure could hardly evolve copyright law or the European style of author’s right law. All the laws are under the pressure of western powers or the globalization. </li></ul><ul><li>It was not a law following the God’s order, not a law fulfilling the existing moral requirement, nor a law collecting the customary usage embedded in Chinese traditional culture. </li></ul><ul><li>Copyright in China has been and is now still a utilitarian concept. </li></ul>
  17. 17. When two Utilitarian Giants Meet ... <ul><li>The inner utilitarian essence + the outside features of European mode + the influence of socialist ideology (collective interest) </li></ul><ul><li>= </li></ul><ul><li>the difficulty of legal enforcement in China.  </li></ul><ul><li>the continuous collision between US and China </li></ul>
  18. 18. The Effects to the Information Flow <ul><li>Internet  Intranet? US: deny to access for individual interests (interests of introduction ) CN: deny to access for “collective interests” (interests of “social stability”) </li></ul><ul><li>Reverse Movement? US: domestic free culture and int’l freeze culture? CN: domestic freeze culture and int’l free culture? </li></ul><ul><li>Isolationism again? </li></ul>
  19. 19. Thanks! HAO DONG Website: E-mail/MSN : [email_address]