Copyright and Media Pluralism
For nearly a quarter of a century, China has had a modern copyright law (indeed, the copyright law is currently undergoing its second major revision). The copyright law is intended not only to bring China into compliance with its international treaty obligations, but also to establish the legal framework for driving the development of domestic cultural industries. Developing these industries is an increasingly important objective, as Chinese authorities pursue soft-power initiatives and seek to encourage "green," high-growth, knowledge- based industries.
There is an inherent tension, however, in China's implementation of copyright law. The Chinese Communist Party's traditional view of the media sector's role as a state tool for guiding public opinion and providing moral edification clashes with the Party's own economic liberalization policies, which triggered the creation and explosive growth of private-sector media producers and in the case of the internet distributors.
Neil Netanel argues that copyright in Western nations plays a key role in supporting and enhancing democratic discourse because it encourages the production of a wide variety of expressive works and ensures authorial autonomy by facilitating remuneration through the market rather than elite patronage or government subsidy.
What role, then, does copyright play in Chinese society? Will it stimulate the development of an increasingly independent media, or will centralized media controls stunt the development of privatized media and attenuate their effect on politics and society? As the Chinese cultural industries privatize, expand and mature, how will they influence state information control policies? As private media companies increase their wealth and power, how do they influence or flout media control regulations? How do private Chinese media companies navigate the complex regulatory landscape? Do the new copyright law revisions affect the answers to these questions, and reflect changing Party views on the role of privatized media in China? This one-day conference proposes to explore these and related questions concerning the complex interplay between Chinese political philosophy and the emerging private media sector.