Chinese Government and Software Copyright: Manipulating the Boundaries between Public and Private

Jia Lu, Ian Weber


China’s entry into the global networked society has raised considerable debate over what benefits are derived locally and globally from the development and expansion of information and communication technologies (ICTs). One of hotly debated issues is intellectual property rights, which is critical to the credibility and stability of China’s membership to this networked society. This article explores the Chinese government’s strategies to deal with external and internal challenges surrounding software copyright. We focus our analysis specifically on the public-private distinction to examine how the government addresses these dimensions of software copyright in terms of economics and politics to support multiple and often competing objectives. Analysis of the Chinese government’s strategy on software copyright reflects its guiding philosophy of new authoritarianism and it application in economic and political areas: socialist market economy and harmonious society. The state’s adoption of new authoritarianism is designed to balance competing dimensions of modernization, though it differs significantly from developed countries, in which public and private dimensions are more clearly demarcated in relation to software copyright. However, the increasing external and internal challenges emerging from China’s link to globalization processes have pushed the government to adjust and manipulate a series of public-private boundaries formulated by new authoritarianism to maximize the benefits brought by globalization, and offset its drawbacks through localization processes.

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