Intellectual property protection enters new era #Oriental Outlook#-Sino-US


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Intellectual property protection enters new era #Oriental Outlook#
China has done a lot in recent years to protect intellectual property, and the efforts have pushed the burgeoning pirated cultural products, such as books, music and films out of the market, which has helped change the country’s image.
 
Under strict regulations, companies preferred to gain exclusive licenses for the intellectual property, hoping to gain a consolidated market share. But such exclusive license pursuit has caused unhealthy ecology.
 
Realizing the problem, the Chinese government is trying to bring the trend under control and create a healthy environment for the development of intellectual property.
 
In the fifth issue of 2018, the Oriental Outlook magazine under the Xinhua News Agency ran a cover story on the current cultural market involving copyright and the challenges associated with copyright protection.
 
Below is an excerpt of the article.
 
For content-centered cultural industry, copyright is an important bridge and link for turning intellectual achievements into real products. In the value chain of cultural industry, copyright is at the center.
 
Disputes over copyright infringements not only involve the producer and the users of the product, but also the copyright holder and the platform, as well as other platforms.
 
The fight for exclusive copyright licenses has become fierce in the online music service and broadcasting rights of sports events since the country took strict measures to protect intellectual property in 2015.
 
In September 2017, the country’s copyright authorities met with major online music service platforms to stop procurement of exclusive licenses, hoping to end the licensing-fee hike and the frequent legal disputes.
 
The online video providers have previously engaged in a money-burning war in obtaining exclusive licenses. Though the providers changed their business strategies such as using self-produced content, the surging fees still brought heavy burdens on them.
 
In a mature industry, players should not focus on exclusive licenses, and the most important thing is to establish a good and effective mode of authorization, cooperation and operation. 
 
After getting the licensed resources, the key question is how to vitalize and maximize the value of the resources. The good use of the resources will encourage more intellectual property creation. 
 
The rapid development of the cultural market has led to more complex and diversified disputes, and the new emerging businesses and technologies in the copyright protection are bringing big challenges.
 
The report to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in October said that “we will foster a culture of innovation, and strengthen the creation, protection, and application of intellectual property.”
 
On January 3, a professional symposium was held in Beijing for experts to discuss the amendments to the Copyright Law. The goal was to provide strong and powerful legal means in protecting copyright in the new era.
 
Industry insiders said that the copyright would still be a highland for companies to compete for, and would be the focal point in disputes for a long period. 
 
They said that all players in the industry could aim for an improved top design and they should also think more about forming a force to create a good ecology after the money-burning war.
 
Exclusive licenses
 
In July 2015, the National Copyright Administration issued a notice requiring online music service providers to stop providing pirated products. About 2.2 million music products were removed from the online platforms.
 
The era of copyrighted digital music came, and the market mode needed to be changed. Platforms knew that the copyrighted products are the basis of their business, and they sought to purchase the licenses.
 
The exclusive licensing mode pointed to the online music providers signing contracts with music companies to gain the dealership and the right for online broadcast, as well as the right to authorize other providers to use. 
 
Tong Xuena, a professor from the Communication University of China, said that besides the government policies, the exclusive license mode also played a role in getting copyrighted products online and charging for online music.
 
However, even common online music service users would know that the fight among the service providers for exclusive licenses was fierce last year because of frequently unavailable content due to copyright disputes.
 
In May 2017, many platforms competed for exclusive license for using Universal Music Group products in the Chinese mainland. The price increased from about $40 million to more than $350 million and $100 million in shares.
 
Tencent Music finally got the contract, and it did not disclose the amount.
 
Chen Shaofeng, deputy dean of the Cultural Industry Institute, which is part of Peking University, said that “without a good commercial model, the money-burning practices cannot continue for long.” 
 
He said that the money-burning war in online music was very similar to what has happened in the online video industry while seeking for licensed video products.
 
According to incomplete statistics from industry insiders, from 2006 to 2011, the price of an episode of a TV drama increased from 1,000 yuan to 1 million yuan.
 
“Facts have shown that in the sports, music and movie industries, the exclusive licenses are not a shortcut to success, no commercial model could be duplicated, and diversified competition would be inevitable,” Yu Feng, an industry insider, said.
On September 12, officials from the country’s copyright authority met with executives from Tencent Music, Ali Music Group, NetEase Cloud Music and Taihe Music, to talk about exclusive licenses, aiming to curb hikes in licensing fees.
 
Some law experts said that the country should revise antitrust law to meet the real situations to prevent monopoly in the online digital cultural market, and the country’s Copyright Law should also be revised due to the situation.
 
Content creation
 
An industry insider said that the copyright authorities’ actions have had some effect, as online platforms have started to authorize others to use the products with exclusive licenses to some extent.
 
Some industry analysts believe that after the online digital market matures in terms of demand, online content providers should not be overly obsessed with the exclusive licenses. 
 
Content providers should improve user experience and consider how to establish a better and effective mode in authorization, cooperation and operation, the industry analysts said.
 
Online music service providers have joined the upstream of the industry, and have invested in producing new music content which would help enlarge their database and also offer them new copyright resources.
 
NetEase Music is pushing ahead its “stone plan” to cultivate musicians, and Ali Music is implementing the “light-seeking plan” under which users and professionals would vote for musicians, and winners would get the chance to make their records.
 
Cussion Pang, CEO of Tencent Music, believes the future of the online music industry would be pan-entertainment based on music. 
 
“If the artists of music companies cooperate with us, we could let them endorse games, and create songs for games, take part in TV dramas and films, using music to add value to the entertainment products,” Pang said.
 
In recent years, lots of leading popular intellectual property content has been developed into different types of products, such as games, films and animations based on famous online novels.
 
Li Tiantian, co-founder of Logic Show, said that a trend to vitalize the copyrighted resources is to combine old and new businesses. She said publishing companies could cooperate with providers of paid online products.
 
The mobile app “Dedao” developed by Logic Show cooperated with book publishers to provide paid content, Li said.
 
Zhu Xiaoxiao, FitTime's chief executive, said that publishers were the origin of copyright resources, providing low-cost, low-risk intellectual property resources, and good resources are the basis for films, TV dramas and games.
 
The Harry Potter series of products were developed after the books became popular, and then films and games added value to the intellectual property. The United States and Japan also set up themed parks.
 
Many movie companies and real property developers have dreamed of building themed amusement parks and scenic spots based on the copyrighted resources. But this way was still under exploration.
 
For example, after the film Legend Of The Demon Cat began screening since December 22, the grand view of the ancient city Changan has given many viewers deep impression, but the location of the film in Xiangyang, Hubei province, did not become so popular to attract visitors.
 
New challenges
 
In the pan-entertainment era, intellectual property has been used in many different fields, and following the development of new industries and technologies, new ways of copyright infringement have also appeared.
 
Wang Jun, an intellectual property lawyer, said that some of these ways were never heard before, which has brought new challenges to intellectual property protection.
 
In 2014, NetEase sued Guangzhou Hua Network Technology Co after finding the later live-broadcasted or put the recorded content of its online games including Fantasy Westward Journey on some live platforms, such as YY Live. 
 
On Nov 14, 2017, the Guangzhou Intellectual Property Court ruled that the company’s actions violated NetEase’s online games copyright and it should pay 20 million yuan. 
 
The lawsuit has been considered as the first in live streaming of games, and the sentencing admitted the legal right of online games in live streaming, observers said. It reminded the live streaming industry to pay attention to copyright.
 
Following the development of the we-media, copyright infringement cases have also happened, such as the “The Poem for You” case.
 
The WeChat public account “The Poem for You” was registered in 2013, and a same name mobile app was released in 2014, but the app was not developed by the same company as the WeChat public account.
 
The app’s team also registered the WeChat public account using “The Poem for You” and the same logo, even pirating the online audios of “The Poem for You.” “The Poem for You” company sued the app’s team. 
 
In December 2015, the Beijing Chaoyang District Court ruled that the app’s team has violated the copyright of “The Poem for You” and order the team to not use the name any more and pay “The Poem for You” company 200,000 yuan. 
 
According to a white paper published by Tencent in April 2017, from January 2015 to December 2016, WeChat has received 107,000 infringement complaints on personal accounts relating to trademark, copyright and patent right, and received 61,000 complaints on public accounts, 41 percent of which relating to copyright.
 
From July 2016, Beijing Orange VR Technology Co has been found to have broadcasted without permission six movies including Ant-Man and Fast & Furious 7 on its app where users could view the movies through VR technology.
 
The American Film Association reported the case to authorities, and the company was fined 30,000 yuan.
 
Liu Lixin, a law enforcer of the Integrated Law Enforcement on Cultural Market, said that “comparing with the traditional copyright infringement cases, it is more difficult to testify the violation case using VR technology.”
 
It was difficult to prove that the pirated content was on the app, and law enforcers finally proved that the content was on a certain server used by the app, confirming the infringement, Liu said.
 
“It forces us to study actively, in order to respond quickly to the new situations of infringement cases brought by the Internet,” he said.
 
The movie Eternal Love、Ten great III of Peach Blossom that was screened last summer was based on a novel which had reportedly plagiarized another novel Peach Blossom Debt.
 
An online comment said that in recent years, many TV dramas and movies originated from online novels that were suspected of plagiarizing other works, such as The Journey of Flower and Princess Agents.
 
Zhu Jiang, former deputy president of the Beijing High People’s Court, said that the copyright disputes have become more complex and diverse, bringing difficulties to the courts in finding the infringement facts because there were no standards.
 
Zhu said that many industries have their expert appraisal bodies, such as health care and construction, but the film and TV industry lacks specialized appraisal.
 
In March 2017, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television led the establishment of Beijing film and television copyright expert appraisal committee, inviting 26 experts in law and artworks. 
 
Yan Xiaohong, president of the Copyright Society of China, said that China’s Copyright Law was enacted more than 20 years ago and revised twice in the past, and therefore, a third revision is needed to meet the new situation.
 
Besides revising the Copyright Law, the government should also make and renovate related regulations, legal experts said. Industry analysts said that the difficulties brought by new technologies should be solved by new technologies.
 
Luo Jiangchun, founder of HOW video app, said that besides improving the legal system, the government could use new technologies to set up a database of original resources and improve the licensing mechanism.

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