The U.S. protest with the World Trade Organization over China’s lax enforcement policy towards the piracy of intellectual property is a reminder that all is not well between the two powers, and that the pernicious issue of copyright and respect for IP lags western expectations. Despite the rise of the Napster Generation, and the bleatings of the anti-DRM contingent, “piracy” is still an issue inside of the U.S. and is not confined to foreign shores. This is not to apologize nor gloss over Chinese, or for that matter Russian blaseness over IP laws, but to point out the problem is not confined to the East.
The crux of the US complaint is the enforcement level for the Chinese is if an offender is apprehended with 500 copies of the pirated work. In theory, in the U.S., a single offense is enough to invoke that big red FBI-Interpol warning that runs at the beginning of every DVD.
Ironic then that Google got pinched here in China for using Sohu.com’s product dictionary for its pinyin input system. Sohu detected the transgression by finding the same errors in Google’s code that Sohu knew existed in its own.
Reminds me of the story that map publishers used to put phantom towns, misspelled streets, and bogus churches on their maps to bag plagiarists.
Anyway, while it is unfortunate the U.S. has had to formally complain about China and IP rights. Let me note that Lenovo spends about $1 billion a year to insure its PCs ship with a genuine copy of Microsoft Windows.