Piracy in China
The American Heritage Dictionary defines piracy as “the unauthorized duplication of copyrighted or patented material.” It is a problem that affects companies all over the world. Piracy of software, movies, and music is commonplace in China. China has the second worst piracy rate in the world; about 92 percent of the software in China is pirated (Williams 2004). Various companies and governments have attempted to combat piracy, but they had not seen much success until recent years. Combating piracy is a difficult task, especially in a country that has a history of not enforcing intellectual property laws.
Piracy costs companies and artists money. Companies spend millions of dollars on research and development to make software. Artists spend countless hours to film a movie or record an album. Record labels and movie production companies spend millions of dollars producing and marketing entertainment media. The companies’ and artists’ investments are supposed to be returned in the form of profits from the media that the companies and artists sell to the public. However, if “pirates” are selling illegal copies of the media, the companies do not make any money. For example, Feng Xiaogang, a Chinese director, said in an article on CNN.com, “We estimate that one pirated DVD is watched by five people and there are roughly one million pirated copies of our film. One million copies times five people times $2.10 per tickets -- that's more than twelve million Yuan in box office loss” (FlorCruz 2002).
Piracy costs people their jobs. Companies, such as Microsoft, cannot afford to pay thousands of employees if the companies do not make money from their products. Companies have been reluctant to outsource software development to China, which hurts Chinese software developers, because the companies fear that the software will be leaked to the public. The music industry suffered a “14 percent drop in album sales from 1999 – 2002 largely because of pirated music” (Ryan 2003). Record labels no longer make as much profit from CDs, which has forced them to lay off employees.
Piracy causes people to lose the motivation to create. Companies, filmmakers, and musicians are all interested in producing and selling their products. However, many companies and people lose motivation to create products if they cannot make a profit from their products. For example, if everyone was stealing or purchasing unauthorized copies of Microsoft Windows, what motivation would Microsoft have to improve the software? Why would it produce the software in the first place?
The evolution of technology has made it even easier to pirate media. Anyone with a personal computer can easily duplicate CDs and DVDs at home. People commonly pirate DVDs, video and audio cassettes, and video and audio CDs. The price of the hardware, software, and blank media that is used to pirate is constantly dropping and is readily available to consumers.
Cultural practices in...