Chinese Firm Now Owns The Rights To Tiananmen Square Tank Man Photo; What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
from the ain't-copyright-grand? dept
That said, there may be an even bigger issue here. And that's the fact that Visual China Group will now get control over a bunch of classic photographs concerning the 1989 student uprising in Tiananmen Square -- an event the Chinese government has gone out of its way to try to make disappear. For now, at least, you can see many such images, including the Tank Man image at this link. Here's a screenshot of some of those search results:
Remember that, for years, US intellectual property maximalists have whined and complained that China didn't "respect" American intellectual property. And they put increasing diplomatic pressure on China to "have more respect" for patents and copyrights. In response, China quickly realized that patents and copyright were a great tool of control for the Chinese government and Chinese industry and have used it to punish foreign companies. And, if the US complains, China just points out that it's only doing exactly what the US pressured it to do. So don't be surprised if it starts using copyright in the same manner. In fact, during the big SOPA debate, it's worth noting that Chinese officials gleefully pointed out how the provisions in SOPA were basically the same as the famed Great Firewall of China.
Once again: yes, copyright can and often is used as a tool for censorship. And that's why it'll be worth paying attention to what happens to the licensing rights of these images.