Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Nothing is real? The IP/piracy problem in China

Spending the morning at a "copy" market in Shanghai today illustrated the problem of developing industries in China, which is that copyright infringement is rampant and expected, and no price for any product is given. While this exists because branded products are unreasonably overpriced relative to their production costs (as they are virtually all manufactured in China), it has a consequence for travelers for China, which is that you become reluctant to pay reasonable prices for genuine products, as occurred with me later at Shanghai Museum. I am also not sure that you actually save money by doing this, rather than buying Chinese brands at shops such as the No. 1 Department Store on Nanjing Road.

It was notable at the Huangpu Acrobatic Theatre performance attended that evening that the reason given for prohibiting the taking of pictures during the performance was not that it would affect the performers, but that it would infringe their intellectual property rights (actual words of the announcer). As they sell DVDs for 120RMB after the show, this is reasonable, but the extent of piracy must have been significant for such an announcement to be worth making.

On another matter, note these regulations governing use of the Renmin Park in Shanghai. The requirement not to shit in the park (point 2) is notable, but even more so is point 5's instruction not to engage in "activities of a feudalistic or superstitious nature." Before I read Vanessa Shue's essay on Falun Gong's challenge to the "Mandate of Heaven" for the CCP, I may not have understood this.

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