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Internet Copyright Awareness to Be Strengthened
( 2003-10-14 15:57) (CCTV.com)

The rapid development of the Internet can play an important role in social, economic and cultural progress, including in China. But, the medium also has its problems. One notable issue, according to some experts, is copyright infringement online, the on-going annual Internet Forum in Beijing is handling this problem.

The Internet can enrich its users' social and cultural lives with its fast speed, easy access, and low cost. But at the same time, the Internet can be a haven for certain types of crime, such as copyright piracy.

Today, the number of China's netizens has surpassed Japan to make it the number two nation in terms of users, right after the United States. Protecting online copyright is a problem worldwide, no less so in China than in other countries. Beijing first issued regulations in 2001, to try to deal with Internet piracy. But fuzzy wording in the regulation, and the rapid growth of the medium, made it difficult to police and enforce. Another problem experts see is the legacy of the past. Xu Chao, deputy director of National Copyright Administration of China, said, "Copyright awareness amongst China's Internet service operators and netizens is quite shallow. This relates to the general social environment of China, where the economy and law are still in the initial stage of socialist development. It's not easy to shake off 40 years of China's planned economy."

Experts agree that the quality of a web site depends on its content. But without copyright protection, writers may be unwilling to put their work online. So copyright protection directly impacts the development of the web. According to analysts, WTO membership has improved copyright protection in China. But the very nature of the web also poses problems.

Zheng Chengsi, Research Fellow with China Academy of Social Sciences, said, "The Internet is characterized by the global transmission of information. This makes it more difficult to protect copyright in the virtual world, than in the real world. But this does not mean there is no solution to the problem. China has taken measures to protect online copyright. However, they haven't been as effective as first envisaged."

Some developed countries have established comprehensive laws to protect online intellectual property rights. For instance, the United States has the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Experts believe China can learn from examples such as this.


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