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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press China Can Only Steal Intellectual Property If It Says It Is Stealing

China Can Only Steal Intellectual Property If It Says It Is Stealing

Sunday, 23 January 2011 08:56

With reference to intellectual property, the New York Times told readers that, "China has a well-earned reputation for theft." Intellectual property rules are defined by each country. China can only engage in "theft" if it has set up rules that is violating. In many cases, its laws on intellectual property do not provide clear protection to U.S. firms, therefore they may not be engaging in anything that can be described as "theft."

This article also misinforms readers about the relative size of the Chinese and U.S. economies. It told readers that China's per capita income is less than $4,300. This is the measure of income on an exchange rate basis. The more realistic basis for comparison is China's GDP measured on a purchasing power parity basis, which is $7,400 a year – 75 percent higher.

Comments (9)Add Comment
Whose Your Nanny - China, Sharia or Corporate Persons USA?
written by izzatzo, January 23, 2011 9:27
See, I told you Bubba, Whose Your Nanny Baker is really one of us.

He understands who the real nanny is and who the real crooks are, the ones doing the stealing, like the immigrants who don't respect property rights and take and take and take till there's nothing left for Real Americans - no jobs, no health care, no education ... no nuthin, know nothing left at all Bubba.

First they wanted divorces under Sharia law, then they wanted free jobs under Hispanic law, now they want free music and pharmaceuticals under Chinese law. Next they'll want health care under Communist Competition like it was provided under Stalin in Russia.

Bubba, we need to recruit more economists like Whose Your Nanny Baker. He understands the difference between between producing and distributing, between free trade and free stolen goods, between capitalism and socialism.

Most important Bubba, he understands the difference between Corporate Personhood and us.
written by ted bundy, January 23, 2011 10:49
izzatzo *really* gets his rocks off on this site
written by Chris, January 23, 2011 10:54
Hm, 75% greater. Now, if they weren't manipulating their currency it would shrink the gap between $ and PPP value of their GDP (in RMB).

But I post for another reason. I don't think it's dishonest or unjournalist-like to say what they allow and engage in is theft. As it is internationally defined at least by Western standards, they willfully allow firms to steal and resell software developed mostly by American firms. If a country redefines their murder statutes and someone was stabbed in the face, we wouldn't dance around calling it a murder, would we? You know, journalistically...
written by Passing By, January 23, 2011 12:14
"Theft" is absolutely the wrong (or deceptive, obfuscating) term to use in any case. This seems so obvious, it is incredible that anyone would even use the term "theft." Copying a computer file and distributing it doesn't deprive anyone of the ability to use any of the identical computer files. Really, I can't believe anyone would call this theft, except out of a weird subservient attitude towards government grants of monopoly to powerful corporate interests.

What seems to be going on is that some people, maybe the reporters, feel that businesses have a right to have government protection from the market. When the government of China decides not to protect western firms from the big bad market, reporters here start crying murder! Pathetic.

abetted lokess
written by Martin, January 23, 2011 4:38
I really appreciate Beat the Press, and the PPP point is a good one. But I'm a little uncomfortable with the principle that we need to accept the authoritarian Chinese regime's definition of what's a crime or not. If the criticism is that NYT should have explained more about Chinese law not having IP protection, fine.
written by Mike, January 24, 2011 4:16
Mr Baker, please read the relevant link above in regards to Chinese IPR.
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written by Melissa, January 24, 2011 7:56
Thank you, Passing By, for making the crucial point that all of the mainstream media consistently miss. The IP-dependent industries love to use the word "theft" to describe "copyright infringement" because it invokes all kinds of ancient, Biblical proscriptions, making it not merely a technical legal issue but a fundamental moral one. But they're not entitled to that halo of approbrium for exactly the reason you describe. Everyone agrees universally that theft is wrong. But there's a whole lot of people, including apparently a large swath of young people in the US, who have no moral problem with copyright infringement.
Dean, just as you've taken on IP protection as an anti-free trade issue, I wish you'd add to that position a rejection of the language of IP infringement as "theft". You definitely stepped towards it with this article, but it would be nice to see you pick it up more often.
written by What?, January 25, 2011 1:34
And Chairman Mao killed tens of millions, but it wasn't murder because the Chinese government didn't define it as such.

Kill one man, they send you to prison; kill a million men, they make you a king.

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.