back to article China strikes blow for property rights, British move to collectivism

The afternoon M'Lords will debate a bill in Parliament which seeks to weaken your rights over the stuff you create. Buried in the Business and Enterprise Reform Bill, which is being debated today, are measures to "collectivise" intellectual property via extended collective licensing - all in the name of reforming 'orphan works' …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "China's new copyright law will make it illegal to profit commercially from an orphan work"

    Meaning what? Meaning people who choose to write their critiques of the government anonymously cannot publish without their names being known to the government anyway, for the publisher will have to prove he's not failing to pay the original writer--and to that, why, you need full disclosure of identity to the relevant authorities of course?

    Ah, no, no no no, it's not about that at all, see? It's about strengthening rights!

    Ah, why didn't you say so! Carry on then.

    1. crayon

      Re: "China's new copyright law will make it illegal to profit commercially from an orphan work"

      "Meaning people who choose to write their critiques of the government anonymously cannot publish without their names being known to the government anyway ..."

      I'm sure the government already has the means (legal or otherwise) to "persuade" the publisher to disclose the real identity of "anonymous" authors without having to go through the hassle of making a new copyright law.

      In any case publishers' have their own self-censorship policy such that any work which does get published would at worst result in a ban and maybe a fine (as opposed to the author being hunted down and executed after a "trial").

      Critiques whose works are really sensitive and are fearful of government retribution already publish in HK or other jurisdictions.

      Some also publish in english, which the government deem less threatening.

  2. NomNomNom

    I think Assad will win, unless the rebels are better armed but who wants to risk that?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If we're taking bets on who will win I'll have my money on the country with 1.3 billion people in it to win regardless of the outcome of this property rights battle.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cui bono?

    So why would Chinese authors work anonymously? Maybe because their work is political.

    In other words, China's new copyright law will make it illegal to republish anonymous political writing.

    Who is this helping?

    1. dssf

      Re: Cui bono? The Bold?

      The law probably protects those bold enough to claim the anonymous protest letter is their own... Maybe they might chose to... Die bold?

  5. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    The Virtual Fix for AIdDevelopments

    Any bets on who will win?

    Yes. All on Imaginative Source Providers..... Every Time .... QuITe EFFortlessly.

  6. Colin Millar


    Welcome to the new politics - the latest bunch of delusional bunkum theories. It is fertile ground out there for the new hippies with the take off of web 2.0. But the usual mix also applies - sure some of them are stoners who believe this stuff but most of them are just exploiting the marketing opportuinties.

    Make it all free is just the latest bit of plunder this lot have spotted - just like "privatisation" which was really just stealing stuff and giving it to your mates, and PFI, which was really just stealing stuff and giving it to your mates this one has been made up so that all those people who have already nicked all of your stuff can now put dibs on any stuff you might get in the future as well. They flog the idea to the stoners wrapped up in magic words like social networking, long tail theory, mashup, they point to the wonderful success of a few six month old consulting firms on a bit of road in east London

    In the meantime blogging replaces bike riding as the magical route to riches and the problem of the feckless poor is resolved for another generation, the thieving classes get another load of free stuff to replace all the utility companies which they converted from somewhat competent operations into scam operators designed to provide no service at massive cost and which are now at high risk of being outed as being as theivish as the financial sector and, as a bonus, the IPO price of pixie dust gets talked into the stratosphere by the stoners enabling a nice little pump and dump.

    Oh - and try to use any of the BBCs interlectrical property and you'll be seeing some lawyers right sharpish.

    I need a beer.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I can't predict who will win but.......

    I see one of two things happening:

    - The government caving in and watering down the due to external pressure

    - Britain becoming a copyright pariah state.

  8. Dr.S

    As soon as I read the word collectivism, I was certain this had to be another Orlowski piece. In the Nordic countries, we have a long tradition of using various forms of collective licensing and it has worked out well for the creators. This constant stream of angry opinionated pieces about how the sacrosanct rights are being violated is really making me doubt the Reg's status as a place of serious analysis.

    In all legislation regarding Intellectual Property there is always that important balance between different societal interests to remember and take into consideration. It would be really nice if this could be a place where that could be done seriously instead of having extreme over-simplifications and flame-wars.

    1. beep54

      What, what, you think you are sane


      Ok sorry bout that. Seems to be how we react in the west. I can't even capitalize that anymore. I keep forgetting that Northern Europe has a stronger tradition of sanity than we (USA, TX even, but Austin!!!!) do. I would say that perhaps the cold helps, but then there is the Canadians going nuts. And well, the Russians have always been Russian....

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You want to compare the Nordic countries with Britain?

      Really? Let me give you a couple of hints:

      - Nordic countries: Civilised places with a long established social compact between the government and the citizenry, and an established degree of trust between the two

      - United Kingdom: Not so civilised country with a less than civilised government which sells the interests of the citizenry to their wealthy friend at every opportunity.

  9. P. Lee

    > IP is fundamental to economic growth

    So China's amazing economic progress has depended on IP?

    What about Singapore or Thailand or Malaysia? All models of IP protection?

    None of it due to hard work, day after day, actually producing things people want, selling and then shipping it, but mostly from thinking of an idea and then stopping anyone else from using it?

  10. Aron

    Wanna buy DVD?

    In the future, you'll be sitting at a cafe drinking a measly zero calorie decaffeinated Brawndo branded eco-coffee that you purchased with your carbon ration when a fellow Englishman in a bowler hat appears and asks you if you want to buy a DVD of a Chinese movie.

  11. beep54

    "Any bets on who will win?"


    Those with the most money.

  12. beep54

    It's the future, supid

    Okay, sorry, couldn't help myself (nor come up with a better title in a brief time), but I think what need to be realized is that we are on yet a new cusp, something that will fundamentally change everything, once it gets worked out. Right now, what it looks a lot like is rich people desperately trying to sell buggy whips to people with cars that can possibly go 120MPH on these new good roads. And they are trying to gouge you for the fucking buggy whips. We are in the throws of a major change in economic models. You cannot stop the fact that content can now be free [edit: not sure how damn long that can last either]. It is like plugging the proverbial dike with a finger. What you CAN do, and no one seems to care yet, is figure out a new economic model to work with. It will be a wrench. It is ALWAYS a wrench

    1. Robert Grant

      Re: It's the future, supid

      When all you have is a wrench, every problem looks like a ... nut?

  13. Cefn

    Orlowski's Bluster over Content

    Seeing the writings of an unreconstructed Intellectual Monopoly apologist, day after day, is getting boring. I recognise that The Register combines both news and opinion, but Orlowski continually attempts to blur the boundaries by citing "evidence" without actually citing it.

    What is the moral requirement on the caveman who saw the wheel in use for the first time? Is it morally correct for them to wait 20 years before using the innovation? Of course not. This is not a moral question. Intellectual Monopoly law is a matter of policy.

    Moral posturing around 'property' does nothing to address the question of how our society should CHOOSE to reconfigure the law in order to benefit the most people.

    Establishment interests, as represented so well by Orlowski, are of course in favour of maintaining or maximising these monopolies, which adds up to free enforcement of their preferred profit margins by the state. Plenty of lobbying and editorial positioning is likely in use by these moneyed conglomerates. I don't accuse Orlowski of being involved in this, because I have no evidence.

    Media representation of IP maximalism as a moral battle, in which "copying is wrong" draws on a simplistic parallel between real life and high-school examinations which stands up to no analysis at all. Most media outlets undertake no analysis, but The Register should do better.

    I've so far held back from commenting on Orlowski. From his track record I expect nothing but adolescent, offensive, irrelevant and vengeful behaviour in return.

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Orlowski's Bluster over Content

      "The Register should do better"

      By publishing opinion/comment you only agree with? :-(


  14. juice

    Wow. Is this article meant to be serious, or was it just a paid-for trolling piece?


    A new draft of China's copyright law strengthens the rights of artists and writers who write anonymously - in other words, artists who create orphan works. "Many users have been avoiding payment by using works that are written anonymously or in pen name. The new draft will effectively end this practice,"


    First: strictly speaking, I guess "anonoymous writing" are orphan works - after all, you can't identify the creator. At the same time though, this was a deliberate choice by the creator, rather than being due to the work having lost it's identifiers and/or having unclear ownership.

    Equally, if the writer has chosen to be anonymous, then this pretty much means by definition that they didn't want to be associated with it or reimbursed for their efforts. Indeed, there may be legal and political reasons why they don't want to be identified as the creator of the work.

    Beyond that, I'd point out that China is currently undergoing a lot of political change, and that the government is putting a lot of effort into managing and censoring discussion about this. The changes to the copyright law would seem to be part of this effort: barring the use of anonymous writings seriously limits the options for people to criticise the government and/or disseminate information.

    Overall, trying to tie a law designed to stifle political debate into the argument about the reuse of IP seems more than a little disingenuous...

  15. David Hicks

    'the desire to see a digital realm free of property rights or permissions'

    *cough* *bullshit* *cough*

    Western democracies have done exactly the opposite over the last two decades, giving in to the IP lobbies to allow ever more stuff to be 'protected' with bogus patents, to make DRM legally enforced, promote the abuse of copyright to kill grey markets, the list goes on.

  16. Zog The Undeniable

    Copyright extensions are so important

    It would be a tragedy if Paul McCartney couldn't milk another 20 years' payment for an few afternoons' work he did in 1968. Judging from his excruciating performance at the Jubilee gig, he has no option but to rest on his laurels.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is a misleading and bogus story, with an abusive and ridiculous pro-IP stance.

    As stated in previous comments, the Chinese 'IP' regulations are really disguised censorship by the Chinese Communist Party dictatorship.

    If people in the UK release works without an author name, then their protest are absurd and childish; the real agenda is that greedy corporations don't want any thing suggesting any future threat to their monopoly welfare!

    The whole point of public domain is anyone can copy a work and even charge for publishing it, if someone likes the new formatting, or is plain stupid enough to pay for it, that is their choice! Specific Copyleft and Creative Commons contracts already exist to prevent other people money making off a work, so creators have not excuse to complain if they are too shy or lazy to use these measures!

    IP is bad, period; the sooner this corporatist, protectionist, anti-capitalist nonsense ends everywhere the better.

    Just look at how vibrant the clothing market is compared to IP infested markets; I mock you!

    Please stop being pro-IP Trolls, it is boring because of the ample evidence against you; we see right through your sophistry!

  18. A J Stiles

    What about

    What about if someone in China writes a work anonymously and adds a statement dedicating it to the Public Domain, or otherwise includes explicit permission to copy and distribute?

  19. BoyModernist
    Thumb Up

    Orphan Works - a precedent

    I am Not A Lawyer. Orphan works are where the Google book-scanning project got stuck for a while.

    Most of the works they make available are out of copyright, and a few are still within, but they have agreement and licence from the copyright holder.

    If they can't identify or contact the copyright holder within a reasonable time and effort, they make the work available provisionally, with a link on the page for the copyright holder to contact them.

    They got sued, and eventually the judgement was that they had to establish a fund, and place the revenue share that would have gone to the copyright holder into it; revenue from things like in-line ads and links to buy printed versions.

    When they are contacted by a copyright holder, they offer the choice to take down the work, or to hand over a share of that fund.

    It's not perfect, but a good first step toward a working solution; to balance the needs of the utility of public access to the work, and the right of the copyright holder to be compensated for use of the work.

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