Chinese copyright consciousness: it has never been ingrained in people’s minds


I found that in Kelly Hu’s Competition and collaboration: Chinese video websites, subtitle groups, state regulation and market, whether it talked about video website’s co-competition with subtitle group or national policy, there was a problem: copyright awareness. This once again makes me feel the lack of copyright consciousness in my country. In fact, it is not only embodied in video website but extends to every aspect of our life.

The last time I was thinking deeply about this issue was when the film The Shape of Water was released in China, the SARFT thought, for some reason, that the female protagonist’s naked back was not appropriate for the camera. Therefore, they use video effects technology to add a small black skirt to the female protagonist. This embarrassing change has caused widespread online discontent, saying the SARFT can’t tolerate a little nudity of the naked lens. On the other hand, some people feel that this is also a disrespect for a creator. Of course, it involves another problem, China’s film market still does not introduce a classification system, which has led to the SARFT has been “cutting hand” which is strict with many films.  However, netizens are more inclined to download resources to watch original movies on the Internet as a silent protest against the unauthorized change in the content of the film. Thus, the censorship system makes the copyright protection policy more and more challenging for viewers and fans.

Here I’d like to narrow down the commercial-related copyright to intellectual copyright in school and talk about one of its simplest manifestations: Plagiarism. When I first came to Canada, my teacher told me that if you had plagiarism here, you would immediately be kicked out of school and leave a bad record on the file, while in China, students are not very worried about this: they sometimes plagiarize articles on the Internet or search for answers on the Internet, and we even have an app designed to help students search for answers. In my primary school, I was impressed by one thing: An essay handed in by a classmate was praised by name and read to everyone in public. However, someone found that it was exactly the same as one in the composition book. The female classmate said she had memorized the article, and the teacher’s response was decisive and determined: “if you memorize it, it will be yours.” It seemed that there was some truth, but now rethinking felt terrible and pathetic, and the deep-rooted and extreme fetchism formed in this kind of language education. It is difficult for them to change their blind sense of identity (even sometimes myself) in the future. And about Chinese universities, we have a joke like this: “in class, the teacher pretends to be in class, we pretend to listen to the class, when the exam, the teacher pretends to be invigilating, we pretend to be answering questions.” The joke is certainly exaggerated and doesn’t exist in colleges, but it happens in second-class colleges, and the consequences of cheating don’t seem to be serious-usually just to warn critics on the radio.

As a result, the protection of intellectual property rights has been further downplayed. When teachers have stopped stressing to the new generation the importance of respecting originators, you can no longer expect people in the business world to always put film and television copyrights first. And when people have taken “doctrine” as a daily habit, their creative ability will undoubtedly be limited to a certain extent, which will further encourage them to look for other resources to learn to imitate-that is plagiarism. People often see plagiarism in movies, TV dramas, novels and variety shows. To make the infringement less obvious, the plagiarists tend to become more and more cunning, choosing a subtle way of infringing: creative works that copy key elements from copyrighted material, from storylines to characters to music cues and beyond. Television shows in China will make a few slight changes to a copyrighted format and then insist it is an entirely new creation(Matthew Dresden,2017) In recent years, many Chinese online novels have been copied in this way and exposed in different forms by fans of the original book. The variety show started by buying the copyright of five or six programs in South Korea and then plagiarized different plots from different programs to form a new program, the Voice of China.

Of course, copyright awareness has improved in recent years, albeit in an invisible way. I remember when I was a kid, all the music and videos were available for free download, and now this software is becoming more and more standardized, and many websites involved in other people’s works have established standard terms of charge. Some people are dissatisfied with this, so they seek free resources online, which is a mental illness left behind by lack of copyright consciousness(including me.) There is no denying that this is a kind of ideology that is hard to change in a short period of time, as Kelly Hu says, even when they buy copyrights, the legal status brought about by this change is hollow and unstable: a response to the high risk of national policy, market competition, and transnational investment. In my opinion, this kind of copyright awareness and awareness of rights protection still need a long period of time to infiltrate and inculcate people and carry out relevant policies with practical benefits in order to further develop copyright system.



Image Sources:

Kelly Hu’s: Competition and collaboration: Chinese video websites, subtitle groups, state regulation and market

fetchism: Originally from an essay by Lu Xun published in the China Daily News on June 7, 1934.(

Matthew Dresden: China Copyrights: No, You Can’t Call It Fair Use (






  1. Exactly! I really agreed on you. Most of the time that it’s quite hard to obey the copyright consciousness, even though we know that it’s important and it’s what we should do as a legal netizen or consumer. Because usually, we will come up with some ideas, like it seems to be people’s loss, when others post those resources on the internet for free if we don’t download or enjoy it as we see it. However, I am wondering that if there some effects come from the strict censorship system or even the block of the outside information. Thus we are hard to find the resources in an official way instead of some private “providers”. On that way, how can we treat the situation that people who are eager for the foreign or various information within a country with special cultural policies and the censorship system, is it can not be forgiven to watch some videos, which almost are impossible to see in this country?


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