Being a Good Assistant-- An interview with the CSC Executive Deputy President Zhang Xiuping

By Kevin Nie, China IP,[Copyright]

On November 20-21, the Annual Conference of China Copyright 2009 was hosted by the Copyright Society of China (CSC) under the guidance of the State Copyright Bureau (SCB). This follows last year’s first successful annual conference on copyright. Eleven people, including famous movie director Feng Xiaogang, reputed actor Jiang Kun, the influential CEO of Tencent Corporation Chen Yidan and author of children works Yang Hongying, were selected as the “Influential Persons of China’s Copyright Industry 2009”, and 16 enterprises, such as CCTV, CNPUBG and Hanwang, were acclaimed as “the Most Influential Enterprises in China’s Copyright Industry 2009”.

China IP interviewed, Mr. Zhang Xiuping, Executive Deputy President of the Copyright Society of China (CSC) on the elements of this year’s annual conference and the work of the CSC. 

Challenges faced by the conference and relevant improvements

China IP:Compared with last year, how would you characterize this year’s copyright conference?

Zhang: The theme of this year’s annual conference is “Development and Value Increase of Copyright Resources in Digital Environment”. The first difference, compared with last year, is the activities centering on creating “Model Green Websites of China” in the environment of mushrooming new media. These activities are characterized by the vigorous participation and support of the Internet Society of China (ISC) and its web members like People’s Daily Online, Sina, Sohu, Tencent, CCTV, as well as other smaller ones. These activities were conducted under strict, standardized procedures. An expert committee previewed the documents submitted for granting certificates by the network enterprises, and selected some for the examination by the leading group. The latter decided the target enterprises and made a follow-up examination therefore. The activities are mobile in the whole process. Violation of rules during the examination period would be subject to warning, required rectification, and even disqualification from being awarded certificate should there be severe violating moves.

The second difference lies in the two forums. One is on the upgrading of copyright resources development and value increase for both traditional and emerging copyright industries in the digital environment. The other is on the new topics of copyright protection arising with the 3G era, required measures for such protection, and the creation of new modes for better protection and fostering of the copyright industry.

China IP:What is the process for the selection and awarding activities of China’s copyright industry? 

Zhang: Last year, the first annual conference launched a selection and awarding move for China’s copyright industry. World-known movie director Zhang Yimou and the other nine persons were selected as the “Influential Persons of China’s Copyright Industry 2009”, and the web corporation Sina and other the 12 organizations were elected as “the Most Influential Enterprises of China’s Copyright Industry 2008”, which created wide influence on the society. The awarding activities are aimed at selecting and awarding enterprises that have made in recent years outstanding contributions to China’s copyright industry (cultural sphere) and their leaders. The 2009 awarding was focused on the goals of “cooperation and exchanges, creation and development, respect for copyright and concerted efforts for a win-win situation” with a larger coverage and stricter, more transparent examination procedure.

China IP:Why is the current focus on the solution of Internet-related copyright problems?

Zhang: Information dissemination through networks is one of the major channels, and also the area where proprietors of rights suffer the most infringements. The Internet industry is confronted with the largest challenge of piracy, which constitutes a bottleneck for its further development. The most urgent task before CSC is to help the Internet industry overcome the piracy problem. To offer all-round protection for proprietor’s legitimate rights, we must accelerate the birth of a new order for the healthy development of the Internet industry.

Of course, copyright protection is beyond protection itself. Protection is a means, instead of a goal, as development is a “hard reason”, the final objective of copyright protection.

China IP:At this year’s conference, the amendment of the Copyright Law was a topic. Could you give a briefing on this?

Zhang:Eight years have passed since its first amendment in 2001. In these eight years, remarkable changes were seen in the international environment, China’s economic and social development and legislation environment. It has been a very necessary, pressing issue to cater to the changing domestic and international situations, and meet the requirements of the Outline of the National Intellectual Property Strategy and the Revitalization Planning for the Cultural Industry.

The amendment of the Copyright Law first began in 2007. The SCB had arranged two seminars that were organized with the participation of officials from the National People’s Congress Legal Work Committee, as well as experts and scholars. Attention was paid to the urgency of amending the Copyright Law, its practical use, and the further detailed stipulations.

Experts talked in retrospect about the insufficient attention paid to the integrity of the Copyright Law in the last amendment, as the then major focus was on the agreement and coordination work with the WTO IP organization and response to the challenges of emerging technologies, such as the Internet, to the traditional copyright system, and the problems left over in pressing need for solutions. Thereafter, the Outline of the National Intellectual Property Strategy was promulgated, domestic and international environments were changed, the internal development demand of the copyright industry arose, the intellectual property system began to be integrated for coordination, when combined, put the second amendment on the agenda. The idea that “amendment of the Copyright Law should be accelerated” is now well accepted.

Mistaken perception of copyright by the public

China IP:According to related materials, we know that the CSC enjoys a strong influence in the field of copyright, but the general public is not aware of its nature and role. Could you tell us about this powerful organization?

Zhang: The CSC was previously the China Copyright Research Society. As the sole nationwide widely representative professional society in the field of copyright, it has a large coverage of business. The public’s lack of knowledge about us, I guess, lies in their mistaken understanding of copyright.

One of the erroneous ideas is the failure to realize that “banquan” equals “zhuzuoquan” (note: “banquan” and “zhuzuoquan” are different translations of “copyright”). When the Copyright Law was drafted, dissenting opinions arose on whether it should be called “banquan”, or “zhuzuoquan” which was later adopted. For the absence of “banquan” in the Copyright Law, people feel “banquan” is rarely used while “zhuzuoquan” is used far more frequently. Whenever people mention “zhuzuoquan”, they usually have the impression of writers, which implies a narrower concept.

Another inaccuracy is that “banquan” equals, and is the sole feature of, news publication. This is obviously a narrower perception. In fact, copyright involves many more fields, including literature, arts, science as well as other intellectual results, but not the publication of news alone.

China IP:Have you ever met a proprietor of rights who failed to protect his own rights because of mistaken ideas?

Zhang: I remember that Zhongshan City in Guangdong Province has an ancient town which is now addressed as “town of China’s decoration lights”. More than one hundred decoration light factories are located there. Their products are sold in the nationwide, but infringement upon their copyright is always  trouble to them as they have no idea what to do with it. Only a countable number of enterprises have patents, so patent law is not a weapon for all of them. When trademarks can be used as a safeguarding weapon, every enterprise usually has only one trademark. To solve this problem, we talked about copyright protection with the town officials and entrepreneurs there, when we were investigating in Zhongshan. Our advice to them was that they could register copyrights for product designs and safeguard their rights from the perspective of copyright when infringement arose.

China IP:What has the CSC done to deal with these mistaken ideas?

Zhang: The publicity work in the past was done in the small circle of copyright, which is far from enough. In 2007, we organized a nationwide speech tour entitled “Copyright Protection and Creation Type Nation”, for which leading cadres of various ranks were among the audience. One of our major guiding thoughts then was that cadres of all ranks, leading cadres and those in charge of economic work in particular, should be our audience if we did want to disseminate the knowledge about copyright. Since our leadership was reshuffled in 2007, the publicity work has had a clearer direction, i.e., involve more enterprises and people in the publicity and help them realize the role of copyright in promoting economic development.

Position relies on fulfillment

China IP:What relationship exists between the CSC and the copyright associations that have relatively more initiatives this year?

Zhang: We have close cooperation with these associations in forming a complete system for copyright protection. When we talk about copyright, the concept should be in a broad sense. Our work must be focused on the conceptions of “copyright in the broad sense” and “unity in the broad sense”. One or two associations have no means to fulfill the copyright protection work. We, the CSC, must do a good job in coordinating all the associations for concerted efforts in copyright protection.
One of our fundamental guidelines is to be a good assistant in three respects: assisting the government in its publicity work, assisting the proprietors in safeguarding their rights, and assisting the copyright industry in seeking a regulated, healthy development.

China IP:What role does the CSC play when there are so many organizations safeguarding rights?

Zhang: Position relies on fulfillment. Position here means that of the CSC, and more importantly of copyright in the national economic construction and in the hearts of the public. Copyright should have the position it deserves. Our principle is to work for practical results but not for false reputation.

Under the guidance of this brand-new conception, the CSC has found accurately its position, initiatively expanded the scope and fields of its work, and paid more attention to the services for copyright-related industries. It is for this reason that the CSC’s work and activities are closely connected to the actual needs of the copyright industry, it enjoys the support and participation of the copyright industry, and all aspects involved join hands in and contribute their thoughts to the prosperity and development of the copyright industry and cause at large.

(Translated by Wang Zengsen)

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