Piracy and plagarism

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.

Author: David Churbuck

Cape Codder with an itch to write

0 thoughts on “Piracy and plagarism”

  1. To be clear, I’m not coming out in favor of piracy, and am offering this only for discussion purposes.

    These losses are based upon assumption that all, or a portion of those that have illegal copies would have bought the originals at market price, if they could not have gotten the copies for free, or fractionaly priced due to piracy.

    In some instances, there may be unseen and unaccounted economic benefits of piracy. For instance, let’s say that the number of machines, running windows is 20% higher than it would be if all had legal licenses. Does that mean that the potential marketplace for software products and apps is now 20% larger than it would otherwise be? Doesn’t this larger marketplace contribute incrementally to the overall industry movement – more content to google through, more potential customers engaged in commerce of other products over the web, more internet bandwidth to sell, more business for telcos and gear vendors, who in turn need more IT seats, and those companies will buy more legitimate boxes and OS licenses.

    My point is that there could be broader, and less easily quantified impacts if all piracy were somehow erradicated.
    Nobody wants to be the devil’s advocate – it’s a losing position.

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