Chinese government and software copyright: manipulating the boundaries between public and private

Lu, Jia and Weber, Ian (2008) Chinese government and software copyright: manipulating the boundaries between public and private. International Journal of Communication, 2. pp. 81-99.

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China’s entry into the global networked society has raised considerable debate over what benefits are derived from the development and expansion of information and communication technologies (ICTs) locally and globally. From a global perspective, such connectivity has created the capacity for China to communicate and share information through new developments in ICTs, particularly those related to the Internet. However, such developments raise two sets of hotly debated issues critical to the credibility and stability of China’s membership to the global networked society: access and civil liberties. According to Nicol (2003), access deals with making it possible for everyone to use the Internet and other media.
Meanwhile, civil liberties include “human rights such as freedom of expression, the right to privacy, the
right to communicate, and intellectual property rights” (p. 11).

Without diminishing the critical issues over human rights, the major concern of the international business community has been China’s failure to deal adequately with intellectual property violations. Since the mid-1990s, western countries, led by the United States, have directed criticism at China’s infringement of intellectual property rights. Even under the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement, which provides more transparency through laws, regulations, administrative rules and judicial decisions on
intellectual property protection (Panitchpakdi & Clifford, 2002), countries have criticized China’s inability to
adequately meet the standards set by international laws on intellectual property despite efforts by the Beijing government. To address the issue, China was listed in 2005 as a priority country under the “Special 301” provision of the United States Trade Act of 1974. This provision identifies foreign countries that deny adequate and effective protection of intellectual property or fair an equitable market access for United States’ business or individuals that rely on intellectual property protection (United States Trade Representative, 2005).

Responding to international pressure, China has attempted to make dramatic and substantive changes in legislative, regulations and policymaking processes relating to intellectual property rights (IPR). However, Mertha (2005) argues that the Chinese government faces internal pressures that constrain IPR protection. For example, China, as a developing country, wants to increase the diffusion of new technologies, innovation and information to close the widening gap between China and the developed
world (Mertha, 2005; Stein & Sinha, 2002). Meanwhile, patriotism and traditional Confucian values add to
normative responses to uncontrolled private ownership, including the limited-term monopoly conferred by
IPR (Mertha, 2005; Yu, 2001).

This article explores the Chinese government’s strategies to deal with external and internal challenges surrounding software copyright. We focus our analysis specifically on how the government addresses public-private dimensions of software copyright in economics and politics to support these multiple and often competing objectives. To do this, we employ a triadic framework of public-private
distinction to analyze the state’s strategies to manage external and internal challenges emerging from
global software enforcement.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Open Access Journal. Attached paper wrongly annotated as being vol. 1 2008, but is, in fact in vol. 2 2008.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Learning and Teaching Support Unit
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Learning and Teaching Support Unit
Date Deposited: 11 May 2010 04:30
Last Modified: 29 Aug 2013 06:22
Uncontrolled Keywords: China; government; software; copyright; software piracy; illegal duplication
Fields of Research (2008): 18 Law and Legal Studies > 1801 Law > 180115 Intellectual Property Law
16 Studies in Human Society > 1605 Policy and Administration > 160503 Communications and Media Policy
08 Information and Computing Sciences > 0803 Computer Software > 080303 Computer System Security
Fields of Research (2020): 48 LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES > 4806 Private law and civil obligations > 480603 Intellectual property law
44 HUMAN SOCIETY > 4407 Policy and administration > 440701 Communications and media policy
46 INFORMATION AND COMPUTING SCIENCES > 4604 Cybersecurity and privacy > 460499 Cybersecurity and privacy not elsewhere classified
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970110 Expanding Knowledge in Technology

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