The cultural side of piracy in China

The more I learn about China, the more I realize that most of what happens in China has everything to do with cultural differences and little to do with the Communist Party.

In 2008, Lisa Wang wrote a post for China Law and of Searching for Liability: Online Copyright Infringement in China.

Lisa Wang said, “The digital copying of music, images, and video, and their distribution over the internet (in China) can provide hours of entertainment for the general public and multiple migraines for rights holders.”

Many in the West that read this may think infringement of copyright in China is done to make money by selling fake copies but—while somewhat true—that isn’t always the case.

The Economist of December 4 published a piece of how difficult it was to make a profit in the toughest recorded-music market in the world, which is China.

It seems that many Chinese will not pay to download music on the Internet.

Instead, people download music free from a number of sites where other Chinese have made the music available.

In the November 20 issue of The Economist, I discovered that despite government censorship, many in China are downloading pirated video online and watching the latest movie releases and television shows from America.

In fact, pirated television on-line is so widespread, Wentworth Miller, who is best-known for his role in the Fox television show Prison Break, was mobbed by his fans when he visited China.

However, Prison Break is not officially broadcast by Chinese television stations.

If censors block a foreign TV show or movie, the Chinese may often watch pirated DVDs or go on-line to watch pirated versions for free.

I know an American expatriate living in China that watches the latest American movies free a few days after they hit the theaters in America, and he watches on-line.

The Chinese have a reputation for being frugal and saving money and this may be another way to achieve that goal by cooperatively helping each other read books and watch movies for free.

After all, China is a collective culture.

Discover how Harlequin Romance Invaded China


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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