USTR Tells China To Do 'Spot Checks On Libraries' To Make Sure They're Not Violating Copyrights

from the really-now? dept

We've seen before that the USTR's infatuation with copyright and patent maximalism is both unsettling and dangerous to the economy. But at times it just gets bizarre. The USTR's latest report to Congress about China obviously lists "intellectual property" enforcement as a "top priority" because that's what the USTR always does. Of course, as we've pointed out in the past, China seems to understand intellectual property a hell of a lot better than US officials. That is, it recognizes that intellectual property is a form of control and a type of trade barrier -- and every time the US pushes it to upgrade its enforcement or "respect" for intellectual property, it should come as no surprise that the end result is China punishing US companies while favoring Chinese ones.

And, ridiculously, the USTR continues to play right into the hands of Chinese officials on this front, who must be laughing maniacally every time they see the USTR release one of these reports, giving them even more ammo to slap American companies and promote their own.

But, the USTR report gets even more ridiculous the deeper you read. Matthew Rimmer noticed an insane little tidbit on page 112, in which the USTR talks about how it encourages China to do "spot checks" on libraries to make sure they're obeying US copyright law. I'm not kidding.
In October 2009, the NCA, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Culture and the National Anti-Pornography Office issued the Notice on Strengthening Library Protection of Copyright, which directs libraries to strictly adhere to the disciplines of the Copyright Law. The United States welcomed this directive and encouraged China to take steps to enforce this notices, including through unannounced spot checks of libraries and promptly investigating and taking action against web-based enterprise that provide pirated journal articles. Subsequently, at the December 2010 JCCT meeting, China committed to take steps to eradicate piracy of online academic journals, including actions against web-based enterprises.
This is quite incredible on multiple levels. First, the very fact that this involves the "National Anti-Pornography Office" should have made it pretty clear that the Chinese recognize what copyright can be used as: a tool for widespread censorship and control. And the people at the USTR are so focused on maximalism that it doesn't even seem to have occurred to them that this is what's going on. In fact, they actually are encouraging the Chinese government to use this as a tool for censorship! Incredible. And incredibly short-sighted.

Then there's this focus on academic journals. As if libraries in China are actually going to pay the insane rates that journals charge? This isn't lost money. Remember, the original purpose of copyright law was to encourage better learning and the wider dissemination of knowledge. And here you have the USTR actively seeking to restrict that, while helping give the Chinese all the justification they need for widespread censorship of the internet.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2014 @ 1:58pm

    what else does anyone expect from an industry that said child porn is the best thing that could happen so that they can introduce censorship laws that will cover whatever they want.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Jan 23rd, 2014 @ 2:10pm

    "the original purpose of copyright law was to encourage better learning and the wider dissemination of knowledge"...

    BY providing a monopoly on potential income to the creator. You keep running that without the necessary context. A copyright MONOPOLY is to get people to risk up front costs of time and money with some assurance of getting it back. Copyright does that by prohibiting griftage on the works.

    Now, if you accepted the above, your ranting here is all hooey, just guilt by association with your favorite enemy USTR. Oh, and this time you also stretch to connect Anti-Pornography to copyright.

    Then you leave out that China is to great (but ever lessening) degree taking US intellectual property, and of course that's to its advantage, always has been for any developing industry, but YOU slant as if the Chinese are suppressing their own industry with copyright. Sheesh.

    You can't resolve internal contradiction between your first paragraph and from the block quote: "China committed to take steps to eradicate piracy". See the problem there? China IS doing (or pretending to), while you spend first paragraph saying they are not and would be crazy to.

    This isn't the first of your loony assertions that the West is pushing the Chicoms to censorship:

    Mike's second-hand analysis: Google being taxed by Germany causes censorship in China!
    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130605/06245023322/china-once-again-using-censorship-elsewh ere-to-justify-oppressive-great-firewall-china.shtml#c24

    Actually, Mike, the Chicoms have always done well at censorship and control even without the West (well, the CIA actually put Mao in power...), and at industry too: they've now almost certainly passed US industrial output. I don't get your blame game here. THEY ARE COMMIES DOING WHAT COMMIES ALWAYS DO. You're just wacky all over, as usual.

    Industrial output of China's communist slave state now rivals the former US of A. It's actually a more "efficient" form of capitalism.

    10:07:08[l-50-8]

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Jan 23rd, 2014 @ 2:39pm

    Are they?

    And, ridiculously, the USTR continues to play right into the hands of Chinese officials on this front

    Looking forward to "normalization" with them, more like.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2014 @ 2:41pm

    Re: "the original purpose of copyright law was to encourage better learning and the wider dissemination of knowledge"...

    "the original purpose of copyright law was to encourage better learning and the wider dissemination of knowledge"...
    BY providing a monopoly on potential income to the creator. When you put a price tag on knowledge that is a form of censorship. That is exactly the opposite of what the originally copyright law was to encourage. Eventually you will end up with a population of rich educated class and poor uneducated class. Hmm... I know of a country that is starting to have that problem.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2014 @ 2:44pm

    How about the USTR minds its own business. Other countries will deal with copyright how they see fit, not how the USTR sees fit.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2014 @ 2:45pm

    The printing press allowed easy spread of knowledge, and there was a strong effort to control this, especially after the ruling powers were criticized by a monk who nailed 95 theses to a church door. Hopefully defeating the attempts to control knowledge this time round will not lead to 30 years of continuous war.
    See Martin Luther and The Thirty Years War
    The Internet is causing similar problems to the printing press for entrenched powers as the printing press did for the catholic church and aristocratic rule.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2014 @ 2:46pm

    Re:

    I thought it was the only thing that turns some of them on anymore that isn't money or authoritarianism.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2014 @ 3:38pm

    'it should come as no surprise that the end result is China punishing US companies while favoring Chinese ones.'

    this is what should happen in every country! the more a country is expected to do to protect not it's own industries, but those of the USA, the more the USA should be punished. whoever thought up this stupid bunch needs to have his/her arse kicked!

    who the hell was it, anyway? and where does the funding come from? just the industries that want their particular products and services to span the world, while every other one is stomped into the mud?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 23rd, 2014 @ 3:51pm

    Re:

    and where does the funding come from?

    Hollywood accounting. The publishing industry, especially the labels and studios, has better uses for their income than paying artists, and that is paying lobbyists.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Pixelation, Jan 23rd, 2014 @ 9:25pm

    Punchline

    "USTR Tells China To Do 'Spot Checks On Libraries' To Make Sure They're Not Violating Copyrights"

    This is a punchline to a joke.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    Ninja (profile), Jan 24th, 2014 @ 2:53am

    W00t? The "National Anti-Pornography Office" is involved? I didn't know they were so advanced there that they had private rooms for checking free porn available at the libraries!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2014 @ 8:13am

    Re: Re: "the original purpose of copyright law was to encourage better learning and the wider dissemination of knowledge"...

    "That is exactly the opposite of what the originally copyright law was to encourage."

    Perhaps the term "exclusive" should be given more consideration as it is an important term derived from Article 1 of the Constitution.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
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    btrussell (profile), Jan 24th, 2014 @ 10:57pm

    Re:

    As a Canadian, I don't give a shit what laws the Americans have, I go by Canada's laws.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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