Misunderstanding of Confucianism as an Obstacle to Copyright Enforcement in China
Xiaolu (Lulu) Choi, Assistant Corporate Counsel, Expeditors International of Washington, Inc., USA
Copyright in international scope is deemed to be closely related to specific local culture. Echoed with this theory, many people also begin to analysis the current piracy problem in China from the cultural perspective. China has been largely criticized by international society for lack of efficient enforcement mechanism for intellectual property rights (IPRs). Even after the accession to WTO and incorporation of Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) into domestic law, China is still consistently involved into IPR disputes. Especially, the dispute between China and the USA in 2010 has spotlighted the problem of enforcement of copyright. Although China has tried to upgrade a strong copyright law, piracy seems to put down deep roots in this country.
There is a popular theory among scholars that the difficulty of enforcing copyright derives from the deep impact of Confucianism to China’s traditional culture. In their arguments, Confucianism values the interaction to the past knowledge, which suggests copying is a compliment and disfavors copyright as a restriction to knowledge. Confucians also put emphasis on collective rights with ignorance to individual property rights. These Confucian values are completely contradicted to those of the modern copyright law. As a result, Confucianism places a philosophical obstacle to combating Chinese piracy.
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