(By You Yunting) According to news media’s reports, the National Copyright Administration of China (the “NACA”), State Internet Information Office (the “SIIO”), Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (the “MIIT”) and the Ministry of Public Security (the “MPC”) recently initiated the 10th special campaign dubbed “Sword Net Action” against online piracy and infringement, centered on cracking down on some websites’ unauthorized reprint from traditional media. This “Sword Net Action” could be better for traditional media, but governmental action gradually has different stages. Traditional media must improve practicing skills in the legal campaign against new Internet media.
It results from the disagreement with copyright for the works of news.
An entrepreneur of a news mobile app recently asked me if the Copyright Law stipulates copyright for the works of news, if the news is made to spread around the world, and why reprinting the news must be authorized. Actually these questions show us some public’s knowledge that it is contradictory between the news’ broadcasting and its authorization. According to the laws, the Copyright law does not apply to news of current events. If there are any comments in the news of current events, the news must be protected by the Copyright Law. News media that create the news shall enjoy the copyright under the Copyright Law, and be entitled to charge licensing fees of others’ reproduction for their operation. However, most of the public does not know the afore-said general knowledge. Currently, the result that news owned by traditional media is free of reproduction is from traditional media’s failure on cultivating the public’s ability of copyright for news of works.
Public perception and opinion have actually already affected the legislation and law enforcement. Current national standard towards remuneration of articles is very low, because the beginning of the Provisions of Published Written Works Remuneration made in the last century has not been updated for many years in accordance with the magnitude of price increases and the actual market. The administration responsible for making the new standard has been difficult to resolve the update. Except the internal reasons, it is also connected to the actual public perception and opinion on the content of the news. The administration is also worried that there is more backlash on the increased remuneration standard.
On the law enforcement, public perception also does affect on the judges. For example, a few years ago, in a case of copyright infringement, a court in developed area of China ruled that more than ten articles were made to the average compensation of each of 20 yuan, with rarely supporting a reasonable fee for notary and attorney. This compensation only plays a small proportion in the whole actual expenditure of right holders. If the public improved a higher awareness of the value of the copyright, we believe such a possibility of unreasonable compensation judgment will be much smaller.
Traditional media shall pay attention to copyright and legal works
As for media that sells copyright, its department for legal works shall be attracted attention. As far as I am concerned, however, both stated-owned and private-owned traditional media are likely to attract less attention to its department for legal works. For example, in a leading traditional media, its legal director has been performed for a long time concurrently by its editor responsible for legal news. Even though the legal director is capable, legal works relevant to intellectual property are required high demand for concentration on legal works. Under high demand that copyright authorization and protections will be taken by strong execution, it is inappropriate for one who concurrently performed two works, thus deepen reflecting the awareness of its senior managers towards legal works.
It is easy to make mistakes in the copyright authorization and protection if less attention is paid. When one traditional media sued a remote Internet company on grounds of copyright infringement in the court where the plaintiff is located, the case was transferred to the court in the place where the defendant has been domicile, by virtue of a jurisdiction objection. A custom of the defendant’s local court is that a works shall be filed in a lawsuit. Considering that it is reasonable for the court to decide that large amount of original works, submissions and purchased works shall be filed in different lawsuits, however, the plaintiff refused to file large amount of lawsuits and then the court rejected its claim. Unreasonable custom and local protectionism is an assured ground of condemnation, but the plaintiff shall also rethink its legal works and lawyers’ profession, at least its lawyers that had not dealt with the jurisdiction, because it is a low mistake to transfer the case to another court after a court accepted the case.
Another question arising from traditional media is the ownership and management issues of the work made for employment. Traditional media discovered that their works wrote by its journalists would be posted on their blogs and Wechat and then were reposted by other media, which will damage the interests of traditional media. This may be connected to the complex ruling about corporate works and the works made for employment as regulated in the Copyright Law. If the department for legal works and the department of human resources could rule such ownership and management of their labor contract and inner regulations, it will be greatly improved. However, it may be too late to solve such issues at this time, because traditional media already in a declining mood have dismissed the capacity to competent with its journalists.
Traditional media shall deal with the legal challenge against new technologies.
With the rapid development of Internet technologies, entrepreneurs continuously develop new products for news but still present the contents which owned by traditional media. Traditional media, If could not understand such new technology, will be at risk of benefits loss.
Taken Toutiao as an example, it is clearly right to recommend news through code transformation at its mobile app, but it will arise some questions such as content loss, huger distribution and layouts. The Regulations on the Protection of Rights to Information Network Communication may apply in this case, but it is illegal to remove traditional media’s ads. Traditional media shall, when protecting their interests, differentiate its unlawful acts from legitimate part, for purpose of pursuing expected effects with a well-grounded explanation.
In the face of Internet media’s challenge, the competitive disadvantages of traditional media are obvious, especially in the industry of newspapers and magazines. Under such conditions, self-reflection and improving skills is particularly important because a survive struggle may be used to describe their actual situation.