Chinese Authors Fight with the Internet Monopolist Baidu

The famous authors in China united together to fight with Baidu

Baidu Library has become a national focus recently. On Mar.15th, the Day of Consumers’ Rights and Interests, over 50 famous authors, including Han Han, Jia Pingwa and Li Chengpeng, declared war towards Baidu Library by an open letter. This fight, from my perspective, may become a milestone in the history of copyright protection in China.

Baidu Library is an online library service owned by Baidu. It allows users to upload and download all kinds of files free. In the open letter, the authors maintained that Baidu Library contained all their books without any authorization. They criticized that Baidu Library was actually a shameless thief. The authors wanted Baidu to stop the torts, apologize and compensate. On the other hand, Baidu Library claimed to be innocent, for it didn’t use the books for business purposes. Besides, Baidu Library said that the uploaded books were due to the individual behaviors of the users but not Baidu.

The authors were infuriated by these words. Han Han, one of the most famous Chinese bloggers and novelists, published a rousing blog on Mar. 25th. Han Han was respected and loved by the Chinese youth for his sharp point and words. In his blog, Han Han refuted that the spirit of Internet should be “freedom and spread”, instead of “free and share” as Baidu said. He also revealed the low income and embarrassing conditions the Chinese authors are suffering from.

Han Han’s nationwide appeal gave Baidu much stress. Baidu replied on Mar.26th, saying that it will delete the tort content and set up a new system to protect the rights of the authors. However, the authors were not satisfied with this announcement.

Technically, Baidu can learn from Google in online publishing. Google Music purchases rights from big music companies and lets Chinese users download free. Google Library charges for every download and shares the profit with authors.

Ethically, we can see that Chinese people should improve more on their awareness of rights. Chinese people have got used to live with pirated copies, no matter movie, music or books. The more pirated copies on market, the worse the living conditions of the authors are. The vicious circle will result in a depression of the whole culture industry.

From another angle, the publishers should think about the prices seriously. An American citizen’s salary can afford over 20 Windows 7, while a same software in China may cost half of a worker’s monthly income. Sometimes the price is a important factor that leads people to the side of pirated copies.

About ShuzeChen

Shuze Chen is a full time graduate student at SPR, Annenberg, USC. He comes from Jiangsu, China. He did his undergraduate in Advertising, Nanjing University.
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