Google Infringes on Chinese IP. Ohh.. This Could Get Interesting.

Thursday, October 22, 2009 1:09
Posted in category The Big Picture

Walk down any street in Shanghai right now and you will find knockoff book vendors who have loaded up on the most recent titles.  It is the latest offering for an already saturated market of goods (DVDs, bags, watches, pens, etc), and becoming yet another issue that members of various foreign industry associations and governments was having to take up with the Chinese government.

So, when reading this mornings headline Google Books Settlement: The Chinese Chapter on the WSJ China Journal site, I was intrigued to learn that the Google had foudn themselves in trouble for violating Chinese IP.  Specifically, they were scanning and selling roughly 18,000 books without the prior consent of the original author’s, and get this:

According to the proposal, those accepting the settlement decision should make their claims by June 5, or Google will consider the failure to make a claim as a waiver of future claims. Those who refuse the settlement should file lawsuits before January 5.

An action that has sent China’s Written Works Copyright Society (CWWCS) into a frenzy, and already has lined up a few lawyers looking for a fight.

Initially I had two reactions:  (1) Where does Google get off jsut scanning these books without prior consent? and (2) Awesome.  Google did what no one else to date managed to do… find a way to turn the tables and highlight the fact that China also has IP that can be infringed.

Personally, I doubt that this is an issue that will be allowed to blowup to far given it would force China to account for efforts to address the issue (efforts both Bill Gates and Rupert Murdoch have publicly, in China, call laughable), however I am hoping (sorry Google shareholders) that this goes to the courts.  That, through the coursts, a settlement is reached, and that this will set the precidents for more legal actions in the future.

And that is why I suggest anyone operating in China follow this case.  Just to see what happens.  Will Google back off their policy (honestly, the settlement sounded pretty good to me)?  will this become a “foreigners stealing from China” issue?  Or.. will it create a dialogue among China’s artists to begin pushing for IP protection, and setting the ball in motion?

Either way, I think this case could reach Danon vs. Wahaha levels of drama were the conditions right.

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3 Responses to “Google Infringes on Chinese IP. Ohh.. This Could Get Interesting.”

  1. Nicki says:

    October 22nd, 2009 at 2:34 am

    The only thing I can think is “Oh no, google will be blocked!” What will I do without my Gmail?

  2. Jeremy says:

    October 22nd, 2009 at 9:00 pm

    can’t China just buy google ?

  3. Rich says:

    October 24th, 2009 at 3:23 am

    @ NIcki – yeah. I don’t use gmail as I view this as a question in my mind nearly anytime something else gets blocked.

    @Jeremy – not likely, unlike many firms in the US, Google actually has a very strong cash position… and has no reason to sell.