Elgar Intellectual Property and Global Development series
Despite the country’s long history, the establishment of a modern legal system in China began in 1978 along with the adaptation of its economic reform policy. While the rapid growth of the domestic economy has dramatically improved the standard of living for many Chinese, the rise of the Chinese economy has also changed the global economic landscape, especially after China’s accession to the WTO. Conflicts thus occurred between tradition and innovation, and between Chinese culture and Western civilisation, which are also reflected in the development of copyright protection in China. Like many other modern laws, copyright is certainly foreign to the Chinese legal system. On the one hand, its principle of safeguarding private property rights in created works contravenes the traditional Chinese value of sharing intellectual works with the community and benefiting the masses. On the other hand, its stress on prioritising individuals’ interest over the state’s interest on the basis of the authorship public interest challenges the ideology of China’s socialist platform, on which the state’s interest has been seen as the public interest in general, maintained beyond all individual interests and rights. Hence, copyright law was disregarded before and for over a decade after its introduction in 1990; it was seen as legislation to benefit foreigners and breach China’s interest, and its formation and coming into effect were delayed in the name of the socialism public interest. Even if the law was enacted in 1990, Chinese authorities struggled to appreciate that the purpose of copyright was to encourage...
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