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A New Approach to U.S. Copyright Policy against Piracy in China
Unformatted Document Text:  10 literary and artistic works from country B than it exports to country B, it will be better off denying protection to works written by country B’s authors even if that means foregoing protection for its own writers in country B” (Post, 1988: 2). For example, while the U.S. is now the very victim of the Chinese piracy, the beginning of U.S. law itself was highly “protectionist” in nature. The first U.S. Copyright Act did not provide foreign authors with copyright protection, because the U.S. was mainly an importer of British copyright products 4 . Discrimination against foreign authors remained a central feature of U.S. copyright law throughout the late 18 th and 19 th centuries (Post, 1998). The first countries to instigate the principles of “international copyright” were the two major exporters of literary property – Great Britain and France. As Goldstein (1994) notes, “[f]rom the very first French-Belgian treaty and the early American refusal to undertake international copyright obligations, copyright has been a protectionist card that nations play according to their current notion of what arrangements will best promote the national interest” (Post, 1998: 4). While it would be foolish to project this simple economics onto China’s long-term economic benefits with piracy, the current piracy in China, at least in terms of short-term benefits, is an economic excuse to develop the infant copyright industries and to expand the consumer surplus at the expense of foreign producers. (2) Political Factors One of the major obstacles in enforcing intellectual property laws is the vast size of territory and 1.2 billion population of China. Since the notion of intellectual property has just recently been introduced – a little more than a decade ago – and copyright law was not established until the 1990s, it appears that much of the population are unaware of such legislation (Ho, 1995). Despite the difficulties resulting from vast geography and population, policy enforcement is hampered by the decentralized government system of China. The Chinese government has decentralized much of its powers to reduce the level of bureaucracy and empowered the provinces with a higher degree of autonomy (Ho, 1995; Spierer, 1999). The enforcement of copyright laws under the system, however, is inefficient in many ways. Given that a decentralized government system has surrendered 4 In the beginning of the 19 th century, the works of English authors were copied illegally and sold cheap to an American reader. For instance, Dickens whose “Christmas Carol” sold for 6 cents a copy in America, versus $2.50 in England urged the adoption of international copyright protection (Lohr, 2002).

Authors: Mun, Seung-Hwan.
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10
literary and artistic works from country B than it exports to country B, it will be better off
denying protection to works written by country B’s authors even if that means foregoing
protection for its own writers in country B” (Post, 1988: 2). For example, while the U.S.
is now the very victim of the Chinese piracy, the beginning of U.S. law itself was highly
“protectionist” in nature. The first U.S. Copyright Act did not provide foreign authors
with copyright protection, because the U.S. was mainly an importer of British copyright
products
4
. Discrimination against foreign authors remained a central feature of U.S.
copyright law throughout the late 18
th
and 19
th
centuries (Post, 1998). The first countries
to instigate the principles of “international copyright” were the two major exporters of
literary property – Great Britain and France. As Goldstein (1994) notes, “[f]rom the very
first French-Belgian treaty and the early American refusal to undertake international
copyright obligations, copyright has been a protectionist card that nations play according
to their current notion of what arrangements will best promote the national interest”
(Post, 1998: 4). While it would be foolish to project this simple economics onto China’s
long-term economic benefits with piracy, the current piracy in China, at least in terms of
short-term benefits, is an economic excuse to develop the infant copyright industries and
to expand the consumer surplus at the expense of foreign producers.
(2) Political Factors
One of the major obstacles in enforcing intellectual property laws is the vast size of
territory and 1.2 billion population of China. Since the notion of intellectual property has
just recently been introduced – a little more than a decade ago – and copyright law was
not established until the 1990s, it appears that much of the population are unaware of
such legislation (Ho, 1995). Despite the difficulties resulting from vast geography and
population, policy enforcement is hampered by the decentralized government system of
China. The Chinese government has decentralized much of its powers to reduce the level
of bureaucracy and empowered the provinces with a higher degree of autonomy (Ho,
1995; Spierer, 1999). The enforcement of copyright laws under the system, however, is
inefficient in many ways. Given that a decentralized government system has surrendered
4
In the beginning of the 19
th
century, the works of English authors were copied illegally and sold cheap to
an American reader. For instance, Dickens whose “Christmas Carol” sold for 6 cents a copy in America,
versus $2.50 in England urged the adoption of international copyright protection (Lohr, 2002).


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