A Porpourri of Autumn Copyright Developments

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Here’s a mix of copyright updates:

On October 13, Tencent and Netease signed a deal for Netease to takes licenses on 1.5 million songs.  Tencent, as I previously reported, has actively been promoting the legitimate use of music on-line.   The current “Sword Net” campaign was is focusing since mid-July on music, and these actions may be a reflection of the campaign’s efforts. Over the summer, NCA had specifically mandated that ISP’s should stop making unauthorized music available on line.  Anecdotally, I have heard that it is getting harder to find illegal music to download.  NCA’s crack-down, including an effort to remove two million songs from the on-line environment was also noted by the media.

Also on October 14, NCA issued new guidance for website service providers (关于规范网盘服务版权秩序的通知), which requires service providers to take proactive measures to screen copyrighted content being uploaded, including for works that have previously been removed, works that are the subject of a notice and takedown, and works specifically listed by NCA.  The rules also require service providers to not provide any support to users to illegally share unauthorized works, and requires users to make a reasonable explanation to service providers if there is abnormal logging-on activity. These rules require something more than responding to notice and take-down requests, and (laudably, in my opinion) appear responsive to the perspective that the late Prof. Guo Shoukang told me, that the obligations set forth in China’s DCMA-type laws and regulations should evolve as technology evolves.

Another important development of late is the formation in September of a sports IP committee under the China Intellectual Property Law Studies Association.  Hopefully, this committee can help spur better protection under China’s IP regime of live sports broadcasts, amongst other sports-related IP issues.

Guo Shoukang, Eminent Scholar of IP Law, Passes Away

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I am sorry to report that Prof. Guo Shoukang 郭寿康, the UNESCO Professor of Copyright Law, emeritus, at Renmin University, died Monday March 22 at 12:35 PM.  Prof. Guo was in his late 80’s.

Prof. Guo taught and inspired generations of Chinese law students and officials.

I would like to share a few moments from the many years of interaction and friendship I had with him:

I was privileged to attend the 65th anniversary of his teaching law in the fall of 2013.  At that time, I was told of how he advocated for a patent law for China in the early 1980’s at the National People’s Congress, when many members were opposed.  I was also told that many officials, such as former SIPO Commissioner Tian Lipu, considered him their teacher.  Moreover, his record of teaching law streteched back to the late 1940’s, when he was a young teacher at Peking University.

I was honored to join him in an interview on CCTV on globalization in IP.   If you go to 5:20 on this video, you will find Prof. Guo continuing his role as a passionate advocate for intellectual property, and countering the arguments advanced by CCTV that intellectual property is a barrier to the development of science and technology.

Even in his mid and late 80’s he was always active and contributing.  I have a copy of his translation of Mihaly FIcsor’s book on Law of Copyright and the Internet which he prepared in 2009 (1125 pp.).  He also continued to advise graduate students even in his later years.

On a personal level, I enjoyed the pleasure of Prof. Guo at a Passover seder at my house in 2007 when I was a diplomat based in Beijing.  I can’t imagine anyone more intellectually curious.

Guo Shoukang – scholar, gentleman, mentor and friend.  Rest in peace.

A Tribute To Prof. Guo Shoukang

I was privileged to be invited to the celebration of Prof. Guo Shoukang’s 65th year of teaching law on Sunday September 15, 2013. Prof. Guo has had a remarkable career in Chinese intellectual property, civil law and Chinese intellectual history. The celebration was also a book warming for Guo Shoukang Selection of Legal Writings (郭寿康法学文选 Intellectual Property Press, 923 pp).

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Now in his 87th year, Prof. Guo remains extremely active and alert. He continues to advise students. In addition, he serves as a member of the experts committee on China’s copyright law reform, is preparing an oral history of his work, and continues to translate foreign IP scholarship into Chinese. Prof. Guo has always been a leading proponent of both intellectual property and rule of law. One speaker at this event praised his singlehanded defense of the enactment of a patent law in the early 1980’s as a key component of China’s need to develop its science and technology and opening to the West. This effort was made over an extended period of time, at a time when China’s opening up policies were still unstable. SIPO Commisioner Tian Lipu, who could not attend personally, also praised Professor Guo’s key role in educating him and other Chinese officials on the once-new field of intellectual property. Dean Liu Chuntian of Renmin University’s IP faculty noted there are few individuals in China that can claim to span the time frame in law and intellectual life from China’s Republican period to the current time. Dean Liu described how Prof. Guo lived across a courtyard from Hu Shi, one of China’s leading intellectuals of the 20th century and a proponent of China’s literary revolution of May 4, 1919. Prof. Guo knew Hu Shi while he was teaching commercial law at Peking University in the late 1940’s, which was 65 years ago.

Among the many programs that I did with Prof. Guo, two stand out in my mind: one was an interview we did together on CCTV’s Dialogue in 2009 on IP Protection in a Globalized World. At age 85, Prof. Guo was a fierce advocate of the importance of IP and challenged the interviewer for not believing in China’s own capacity to innovate and its need to protect its own inventions. On a more personal note, in 2007, I had invited Prof. Guo to my house to celebrate Passover with my family. I believe no other Chinese friend was as inquisitive and appreciative of that event, which we talked about for years after.

In the introduction to Prof. Guo’s new book, Prof. Joseph Straus of the Max Planck Institute, described Prof. Guo as “doubtless the most respected and best known expert in intellectual property of his country. This is clearly evidenced by his numerous offices and recognitions at a national as well as international level. …No wonder that he has a worldwide fan community, including myself.” I am also privileged to be among the fan club of Prof. Guo Shoukang. Long life!

Traveling the IP Road: What Are the Top China IP Destinations and Curiosities? (Part I)

Every year, around “ IP Week”  (April 26) Chinese officials and organizations of various kinds publish their “top 10” list, typically of best cases, most important developments, or leading officials.   Since it’s near the end of summer in the northern hemisphere, with Europe and North America just returning from vacation – it seems like a perfect formula for another top 10 list of most significant, unusual or historical destinations related to China IP and its history .  This is a personal list – I welcome hearing back from readers about what their top ten might be. Continue reading