As further evidence of how things are changing in China when it comes to attitudes to piracy, here’s a news item from Caixin about the leak of the hottest TV series there at the moment:
A glossy Chinese television drama, inspired by the country’s ongoing anti-graft campaign, has become the latest victim of rampant piracy, fueled by slack laws, weak enforcement and the absence of punitive fines.
A story about China’s public prosecutors who dredge up a series of scandals as they investigate shady land deals, organized crime and [state-owned enterprise] reforms, In the Name of the People became an instant hit when it debuted on March 28 and has become one of the most-watched TV programs in Chinese history.
What makes an otherwise humdrum story about popular TV episodes turning up on video-sharing sites rather unusual is who is doing the complaining:
China’s state prosecutors’ office, which bankrolled the $12 million production, and other producers said they had reported the copyright infringement to police, and urged platforms including cloud services, e-commerce shops and video hosting sites to remove all unauthorized versions, in a joint statement last Thursday.
China’s state prosecutors are not normally in the business of bankrolling TV productions. Presumably, they took that unusual step on this occasion because it was important to increase public support for Xi Jinping’s long-running fight against corruption’s “tigers” and “flies” using a medium that would reach a much wider audience than dull government speeches or press articles exhorting them to do the same.
One of the best ways to ensure the widest possible audience for that message would be to allow the TV series to appear on sites for people to download freely. So asking the companies running them to remove copies in order to “protect” the official broadcasts seems perverse. If anything, it shows that respect for copyright in China has now gone so far as to be harmful to more serious matters like tackling the country’s corruption.
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Author: Glyn Moody