Who’d have thought China would be the defenders of copyright?

When I was a nipper, trying to licence rights in various things, it was widely reckoned that it wasn’t worth trying to do business in China because they pretty much ignored copyright there. If they wanted to use something they just did, without asking first.

Whether that was an unfair generalisation or not, the same cannot be said now. Here’s news of a judgement in China against Apple.

In short it says that Apple is responsible for third parties uploading infringing content into Apple’s systems. In other words, the basic principle of copyright law – that you need permission before you use someone else’s stuff – is being upheld in China, and just pointing the finger at someone else doesn’t get you off the hook.

That might sound like common sense but that same principle has been all but eliminated on the internet in the USA and Europe (and so most of the world) by ill-conceived legislation and an avalanche of business models which aim to enrich businesses by exploiting other peoples work without paying.

How different the internet would be now if the common-sense of copyright still applied everywhere.

How ironic that China, not the USA and Europe, is now the state upholding the basic principles which underly professional creativity.

Perhaps they understand what the USA and Europe seem not to – that without economic incentives for creators, creativity and the creative economy cannot thrive and no amount of tech startups can compensate for that.

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