Monday, May 07, 2007

Why China Should Stop Burning Books In The Name of Intellectual Property Protection

Especially after the US filed formal complaints against China at the WTO in repect to China's IPR protection and enforcement and China's market access, April 10th, China wants to show that it is serious about protecting and enforcing IPR. That is probably why it launched the burning of 11 million copies of pirated and illegally published books and magazines. Read Clifford Coonan's article for Variety here.

Now the destruction of books is a definitive way and prevents the possibility of infringing books getting back into the channels of commerce which conflicts with article 46 TRIPs. However, this author argues that book burnings are not preferable. For one thing it has very bad connotations: Book burnings followed by the burial of scholars appeared in China during the Qin dynasty (3d century BC), read a Wikipedia article about it here, and in the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) when many books were burned and again authors were murdered, read a Wikipedia article about it here. In this blog I am only referring to China's book burnings, to avoid to abide by Godwin's law.

However, what to do in case of pirated books? Most books are made of paper, so instead of seeing the books go up in flames and add to the air pollution, why not let them reincarnate into non-infringing books?

The same can be said, a fortiori, about the 30 million pieces of smuggled and pirated audio and video materials and software that were set on fire. Burning these materials is obviously worse for the environment than paper.

So extinguish the fire and turn on the shredder and give the infringing goods a second life as non-infringing goods.

Disclaimer: this author is a bibliophile.

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