Misunderstanding of Confucianism as an Obstacle to Copyright Enforcement in China

Xiaolu (Lulu) Choi, Assistant Corporate Counsel, Expeditors International of Washington, Inc., USA

Copyright in international scope is deemed to be closely related to specific local culture. Echoed with this theory, many people also begin to analysis the current piracy problem in China from the cultural perspective. China has been largely criticized by international society for lack of efficient enforcement mechanism for intellectual property rights (IPRs). Even after the accession to WTO and incorporation of Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) into domestic law, China is still consistently involved into IPR disputes. Especially, the dispute between China and the USA in 2010 has spotlighted the problem of enforcement of copyright. Although China has tried to upgrade a strong copyright law, piracy seems to put down deep roots in this country. There is a popular theory among scholars that the difficulty of enforcing copyright derives from the deep impact of Confucianism to China’s traditional culture. In their arguments, Confucianism values the interaction to the past knowledge, which suggests copying is a compliment and disfavors copyright as a restriction to knowledge. Confucians also put emphasis on collective rights with ignorance to individual property rights. These Confucian values are completely contradicted to those of the modern copyright law. As a result, Confucianism places a philosophical obstacle to combating Chinese piracy.

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USA Intellectual Property Logistics April 2016 Vol. 9, No. 35, Spring 2016

Xiaolu (Lulu) Choi


Xiaolu grew up in Tongzhou, a city located in the southeastern section of the Jiangsu Province in China. In 2006, she was admitted to Peking University Law School, where she earned the degree of Juris Master in International Business Law. After passed the

Expeditors International of Washington, Inc.


Expeditors is a global logistics company headquartered in Seattle, Washington. As a Fortune 500 company, Expeditors employs over 14,600 trained professionals in a worldwide network of over 250 locations across six continents. Expeditors satisfies the incr

USA Intellectual Property Logistics April 2016 Vol. 9, No. 35, Spring 2016

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