Archive for the 'Chinese' Category

Google’s License renewed, and ISP Liability Released

The game of “Spoting the Difference” starts again!

Google’s ICP license renewed. See the captured today’s Google.cn web page below (left), and compare it with the page in last week (right).

Google.cn on 9 July 2010:
Google.cn on 4 July 2010:

Exactly as what I predicted few days ago, Google is trying to make Google.cn being a non-search engine website. It now places “Music”, “Translation” and “Shopping” at the web page. These are what Google wishes to keep on running in China. While the search engine service of Google.cn is replaced by a link to google.com.hk. Legally speaking, Google.cn is not providing search engine service currently. It is merely a link to another website. Just like the links added in any of our own web posts.

Interestingly, please pay attention to those minor changes. It seems Google’s lawyers are demonstrating their legal skills. For example, in the 4 July version, it says “we have moved to (我们已经移至) google.com.hk”, while in current page, “we have moved to” has been moved. Why? I assume the reason might be: The sentence “WE have moved to” acknowledged that the one who runs “google.com.hk” is identically the same one who runs “google.cn”. In that circumstance, Google.cn would still be critisized by Chinee authority on providing searching results including “illegal” materials. Without such sentence, when it is accused by the government, Google China may say that it is an independent legal entity who is distinctive from the operator of google.com.hk.

Besides the censorship topic. Let’s discuss something about intellectual property law (this might be more interesting): Is there any difference between providing a link to a search engine and providing a search engine service per se?

Yes, of course.

When you place a link to a web page. You will not be a service provider, therefore you will not be liable for the copyright/trademark infringement even when the linked page is full of infringing materials. If a right owner wants your money, he/she at least has to send you a notice saying “hey! The web page you are linking is full of my proprietary stuff. Please move that hyperlink!” After you recieved such letter, in China, you may have to remove the link if there is really infringing contents at the web page you are linking to. However, now in the Google’s circumstance, this will no be a problem because google.cn is linking to google.com.hk, which is owned by google.cn’s parent company.

In short, by replacing search box with a hyperlink to google.com.hk, Google.cn may escape from being accused for vicarious liability, which is by far a “killing application” of the intellectual property holders in this era of the Cambrian explosion of the Internet.

Would Google.CN be a “Non-Search Engine” Site?

As you may have known, the domain “Google.cn” had been automatically redirected to “Google.com.hk” since this March. And last week, Google stopped such automatic redirection, and launched a web page at Google.cn. By clicking anywhere of the page, a visitor will be linked to Google’s Hong Kong site.  (please try http://www.google.cn )

截图00

Google’s SVP David Drummond announced the official reason of such change (underlines added).

“…it’s clear from conversations we have had with Chinese government officials that they find the redirect unacceptable—and that if we continue redirecting users our Internet Content Provider license will not be renewed (it’s up for renewal on June 30). Without an ICP license, we can’t operate a commercial website like Google.cn—so Google would effectively go dark in China … instead of automatically redirecting all our users, we have started taking a small percentage of them to a landing page on Google.cn that links to Google.com.hk — users can conduct web search or continue to use Google.cn services like music and text translate, which we can provide locally without filtering. This approach ensures we stay true to our commitment not to censor our results on Google.cn and gives users access to all of our services from one page… As a company we aspire to make information available to users everywhere … We are therefore hopeful that our license will be renewed on this basis so we can continue to offer our Chinese users services via Google.cn.”

Regardless the political concern of Chinese authority,  the current web page at GOOGLE.CN and the above announcement can be described as a smart lawyering thing. By this change, Google may claim that GOOGLE.CN is not using the prohibited URL forwarding technology. And because the linked page  google.com.hk) has nothing but a blank search box and some links for the “Google.cn services like music and text translate”, Google is hardly to be condemned as an “illegal” or an “unmoral” one even in the tone of Chinese offical news agencies.

I would not like to bet that Google could be blocked out of China entirely.  But who knows what will happen? If Google is really blocked on mainland China, some clues might be found through what has happened.

Firstly, Google wish to keep its “Google.cn services” at Chinese market. Since 2005, Google has launched some unique Chinese applications at Google.cn.   These services are either not available (e.g. www.google.cn/music) or unuseful (e.g. laiba, Google Book Chinese, Google Scholar Chinese etc.) for the users outside of China. Therefore, Google hope to leave them even when its search engine is blocked.

cyberpluralism
The circled things are all Chinese applications.

Second, Google wish to “offer unfiltered search in simplified Chinese”, but please be careful, Google does not say whether such unfiltered search will be available on mainland China, or at least available through Google.CN. Technically, language preference can be individually adjusted by any user in any Google account at any Google’s gTLD domain name. Therefore, Google will definitely continue to offer such service no matter China block Google.cn or not.  Or, to some extrem, Google China (which is by law an independent Chinese company) may even continue to use Google.cn as an entrence of thlse Chinese Google services, while (if not too weird) such page may not include a search engine unless you log in with your Google.com account (which is a service provided by a foreign company).  By the way, the similiar situation has actually been happening for a long time – Google.CN has never provided E-mail service.

I will discuss this later on.

"My husband’s life is uncertain now. I will try to ship the garlic tomorrow, Okay?"

Please read the translation of an online conversation between a seller and a buyer at Taobao.com. The buyer ordered a bottle of garlic spread from the seller.

Buyer: Hey, have you shipped what I bought at your taobao shop?
Seller: There is a flood hereby! Our office has been flooded! The express company is shutdown today too! My husband has been swept away. And I can not find him now!
Buyer: oh…
Seller: We get rainstorm for several days in Guangdong. It’s all messy in my shop today. Sorry for late! I am very sorry… My husband’s life is uncertain now. I will try to ship the item to you tomorrow, Okay?
Buyer: …fine, it’s fine.
Seller: I appreciate your kindness! Thank you! I do feel regret for late shipping!
Buyer: …
Seller: Many thanks! I am not sure how to make it… I am really scared…

As an observer of the Internet and society, frankly, I am a little bit exciting on the background of the story. Obviously, even in a flooding, the online business is still running. What a vivid economy!

As a Chinese guy, I am a little bit moved by the woman. Wish her and her husband, along with their business can survive the disaster out there.  The hope of the country comes actually from those kind hearts, along with the merits of free and fair trade. The law should improve and guarantee them.

On the current flood-stricken south China,  see:
http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE65P11X20100626

The screen capturing of the original conversation can be seen at my Chinese post at http://www.blawgdog.com/article/BLawg/1051.htm

English Abstracts of the Chinese Entries at BlawgDog (Dec. 21th – Jan. 24th)

 

This movie was made by a few Chinese WOW players. The story is well edited and all the episodes are captured from te WOW game. In this remix movie, the story of the dispute between two Chinese governmental departments on the licensing of the WOW and the the players’ rebellion of the electrotherapeutics to the “net-addiction” are narrated perfectly. The controversial electrotherapeutics was invented by a Chinese psychiatrist and supported by some parents. This is a representative work of Remix by grass-roots Chinese netizens. And it is released with CC-By-NC-SA. Watch it at here (I do wish someone may add English subtitles to it).

 

This post is contributed by Mr. Xuhui Chen, a new co-author of BLawgDog and a patent lawyer in China. The essay provides the passing rates of each year’s examination and other detailed analysis.

 

In this issue edited by Luckie Hong, the following news are included: (1) two guys are prosecuted for oporating unauthorized online-game sever of “Audition Dance Battle Online”; (2) A Beijing court ruled that funshion.com infringed copyright by providing downloading; (3) The Measures of payment of the textbooks’ royalties and the Measure of Protection of the Folklores are drafting; (4) Sany group, a major construction machinery producer wins a litigation on its trademark against the figure of “Benz”; (5) Tianjin high technology industry park promulgated a regulation encouraging the endevor of establishing well-known brands; (6) The series cases on the trademark “世界风SHIJIEFENG” was settled by the parties; (7) XGK, a company in Henan province, wins a lawsuit against State Intellectual Property Bureau for its decision of invalitation of the ZL8910393.8 patent; (8) powerdekor, a mojor producer of wood flooring in China, was involved in a patent law suit on its laminate flooring product; (9) Shanghai encourages the application of foreign patent with the maximum of 90,000 RMB financial aid.

 

This post is originally written in English. Click here.

 

This post is translated and extended in English, please click here for the English version.

 

This is a copy of the CNNIC’s notice requesting ISPs stopping to resolve the domain name which are not recorded in Ministry of Industry and Information Technology’s website registration/licensing system.

 

The Hong Kong government proposed a new version of the Proposals for Strengthening Copyright Protection in the Digital Environment. Xie Lin and Donnie co-authored this short post, which briefly introduced the content of the new proposals.

 

In this issue edited by Luckie Hong, the following news are included: (1) Google apologized openly for the first time in the copyright dispute between Google and Chinese authors; (2) A US software firm sues China for 2.2 billion dollars for using its copyrighted software in the Green Dam; (3) 50% increase of the copyright registration in China, 2009; (4) Hanwang, a Chinese company finally agree to sell the “iPhone” trademark to Apple; (5) Hengyuanxiang, a major Chinese woolen provider, was trapped in a trademark dispute on the “figure of a Sheep”; (6) the tademark of “Pierre Cardin” was finally selled to a Chinese company for 37 million euro; (7) A Fujian firm won IP lawsuit against FKK, a Japanese chemical giant; (8) A patent dispute about Mercury-free batteries falls into a vicious cycle; (9) RichtekTechnology, a Taiwan firm, sued AMD and other 5 US companies for patent infringement

 

 

 

 

In this issue edited by Luckie Hong, the following news are included: (1) Zhejiang Higher Court promulgated a guide for hearing the online copyright disputes; (2) A case on the popular book “Mawen’s War” was ruled in Nanjing; (3) The appealing case on the copyright of electronic navigation map in China (the first one in China) was ruled by Guangdong Higher Court; (4) the exposure draft of the new trademark law was submitted to the Legal Affairs Office of the State Council; (5) Google sent a lawyer’s letter to an individula who is raising an objection to the trademark of Google’s Chinese name Guge (谷歌); (6) Beijing No.1 Intermediate people’s Court affirmed the validity of Judger Group’s (a Zhejiang-based garment enterprise) trademark of GEORGE and its figures; (7) The “Interpretation of the Supreme People’s Court on Several Issues concerning the Application of Law in the Trial of Patent Infringement Dispute Cases” was promulgated by the Supreme People’s Court; (8) the new IMPLEMENTING REGULATIONS OF THE PATENT LAW OF THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA was passed by the State Council on 30 Dec. 2009; (9) Unilin loses its acts against patent infringing products of Yekalon in Germany.

 

This post firstly briefed Donnie’s definition of “Public Domain” in the context of Chinese copyright law in his PhD dissertation at China University of Political Science, then introduced the idea of “public domain day” on each January 1st for at this day, many works will fall into the public domain every year. Lastly, the post discussed some famous/interesting Chinese works that will be fall into the public domain since Jan. 1st, 2009.

 

In 2009, 170 entries are published at BLawgDog (including 38 English ones). Among them, Donnie contributed about 120 posts, other co-authors contributed about 40 ones. Then this article highlighted a few interesting posts during the year.

 

I annouced a very quick survey to Chinese twitter users: whether they are living abroad or inside of the GFW. 88.46% responed they stay in China. For the question “if you live inside of the GFW, are you use twitter frequently”, 70.21% said yes they are. For the question “if you live outside of the GFW, after going back to China, will you use twitter frequently”, 52.94% said yes, but 23.53% said he/she will use twitter only when she/he is out of GFW. For the question “Ask 5 of your QQ buddies randomly, how many of them are using twitter.” 53.85% of the respondent said none of their 5 QQ buddies is using twitter, and only 1.92% said all of the 5 QQ buddies are using twitter too.

 

Writen and edited by Luckie Hong, a co-author of BlawgDog, reporting the latest news in IP Law. This issue includes: (1) the promulgation of China’s new Tort Law, in which the ISP’s liability was eventually coded in a questionable way; (2) China association of literature copyright said Google has illegally scanned over 80,000 Chinese books; (3) Taiyuan intermediate peoples court in Shanxi Province issued a warrant of seizure to a karaoke bar for copyright infringement, which is the first time on mainland China; (4) the National Trademark Review and Adjudication Board petitioned to the Supreme Court for the Beijing Court’s rulling of its decision on the “Daohuaxiang” trademark; (5) the dispute of the trademark of *ST Sanlian (SH.600898) will be ruled soon; (6) JNJ (Johnson & Johnson) lost the case on the “Caile” trademark in China; (7) A Newyork listed Shenzhen company was sued for a patent infringement, the damages claimed by the plaintiff was 175 million RMB; (8) Aigo and Netac settled the patent dispute on USB flash drivers; (9) Up to 7 Dec. 2009, the annual number of patent granting is 3007,636.

 

This essay reviews the usage of the term “use” in China’s current Copyright Law, and find its definition is hightly confusional, which leads the uncertainty “individul use” in the list of limitations to the copyright in Art. 22 of the Copyright Law.

 

This post questioned the legitimacy of issuing a warrant of seizure to Karaoke bars for the reason of copyright infringement, which was happened in Taiyuan, the capital city of Shanxi Province.

Wanna setup a Personal Website in China? BEING TAKEN A Portrait Please.

 

According to a new regulatory document (in Chinese) announced by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, a personal website owner have to BE TAKEN a portrait when she/he is about to “register” the basic information of their websites. The title of the new regulation is: The Scheme of Further Commitment of the Verification to the Websites’ Registration Information (Trial Implementing Regulations) [CN: 工业和信息化部关于进一步落实网站备案信息真实性核验工作方案(试行)]

 

“Registration” is a premising procedure for setting up a website in China.  The information required in the registration includes the domain name, the IP address of the hosting server, the brief introduction of the website’s intended content, the owner/operator’s true name and Chinese citizen ID number, address and other contacts. Although the regulation uses the term of “registration” but not “license”, it is actually a compulsive requirement for any websites. Without registration and the final permission from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, a website will be deemed as an “illegal” one and be shut down (China does have an Administrative License Law restricting the governmental organizations from establishing the administrative licenses arbitrarily, but this law is obviously being ignored, again).

 

Anyway, before the new regulation, the whole procedure of registration can, at least, be accomplished online, despite it normally needs weeks, or even more than a month in some cases, to get the license.

 

Now you have to schedule a travel for such registration in accordance with the new regulation. It requires the owners of the personal websites providing their own portrait in the form of registration. To avoid the false portrait, the website owners must present by person with their personal identificatoin documents (like resident ID card, or passport for foreigners), and BEING TAKEN PORTRAIT in the photographic studio (with unified equipped backdrop providing by the MiiT) located at the IDC’s office.

 

Here is the new procedure of the website registration for individuals:

 

Webmasters log on the registration system of the MIIT, and input the information

–> The IDCs or the ISPs (hosting service provider) verify the information 

–> If the informaiton is true (deemed by the ISPs)

–> the ISP send the notice of spot verification

–> Webmaster go to the verification center with ID documents

–> If the informaiton is true (deemed by the IDCs)

–> The ISPs or IDCs input the information and upload the portrait to the system

–> the provincial communication administration examine the registration information

–> If the informaiton is true (deemed by the administration)

–> the registration information will be submitted to the MiiT’s system finally

–> the Webmasters will get the permission of establishing the website.

 

Besides this new procedure, the regulation requires IDCs draw a plan on re-examination of the existing websites (means the websites has been registered beforehand) … it does not said explicitly that the owners of the existing websites also need to BE TAKEN portraits at the IDC’s studio, but leaves such possibility in the wordings.

 

My comments … speechless, speechless, and …  speechless. It seems more and more difficult to write legal blog posts refrained from grumbling.

 

BTW, another news. China’s President Jintao Hu was found established a micro-blog at People’s Daily’s twitter-like service  t.people.com.cn) yesterday.  And that micro-blog was symboled with a “verified real person” badge, and a line of bio stating his current position as the Party Chief and the President of China.

 

Then, in a dozen of hours, that zero-posted micro-blog got 20,000 followers.  Then the server was denied visiting just like being DDOSed. Then the service provider closed “Hu’s” microblog, and confessed that it does not established by President Hu. It is actually an automatically created page for the verified users in the BBS service of the People’s Daily. Hu has (perhaps been) registered an ID with his real name when he showed up for his first online chatting with netizens in 2008.

 

I wrote in a Chinese post said this “accident” proves, again, that, even if we forget the freedom of expression but aiming at locating the wrong-doers, the real-name registration system will be useless in the circumstance of the rapid developing technology and the constantly changing personal situation nowadays. On the contrary, the case that even our President would BE ESTABLISHED a blog without his consent demonstrates clearly what we need to focus on is not the real-name registration law, but the law of personal data protection, no matter it is associated with a real name or a false one.  The law of real-name registration system is based on the presumption of mistrust, and will increase such mistrust among the stakeholders. The law of personal data protection is based on the presumption of trust, and will decrease the misturst eventually.

1266804778009 
President Hu’s “verified real-name” micro-blog (screenshot, the page no longer exist).

Who Survived the Cinternet – Case Studies to Chinese Websites

Thanks for Professor Urs Gasser’s invitation. I am allowed to sit in his course of “Online Law and Business in a Globalized Economy” at Harvard Law School, and get an opportunity to present some understanding to Chinese websites. Because of the limited time slot, I just partly introduced the slides in the class. Therefore, here is a more comprehensive version for those who are interested in.

 

幻灯片1

Hillary Clinton said that “We stand for a single Internet where all of humanity has equal access to knowledge and ideas.” I love this vision, but it is not a truth of the Internet. 幻灯片2

It is untrue not only because the dicky openness of a specific network may be destroyed abruptly (The Internet access in Xinjiang, a northwest region in China three times bigger than Califonia, was simply cut out over 6 months after the mob riot and bloody fight between nationalities), but also because the essence of the Internet: It is inter-net, the Network of Networks. It can be described as an information transmission/communication network composed of many autonomous systems. ARPANET, MILNET, Cyclades (France) and NPL (UK) formed the first generation of the Internet (see the video). More autonomous systems then have been setup and joined the Internet – They joined the Internet by accepting the TCP/IP and other protocols. But this does not mean that they have the same policy on the authority to access and the attitude to the network security.

Similiarly, I name the concept of “Cinternet” to the autonomous network in China.  It could be isolated from the other parts of the Internet infrastructurally, linguistically, politically and even culturally. Recently, the trend of such isolation seems jumped from the level of technological blocking to the level of institutional denying. Contrast to Hillary’s vision, this seems to be an existence, no matter “bad” or “good”. It is there.

A Video on the History of the Internet [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9hIQjrMHTv4 ]:

幻灯片3

Google announced that it will not go on filtering the results of web search because it’s E-mail service is attacked. The logic is not that straight forward, but it works at least on emphasizing the not evil slogan. In my view, it is not only the said attacking, but also the anxiety of the culture shock lead Google’s activities. Google is still using its American imagination: fight or obedient, agree or disagree.

幻灯片4

Let’s back to the business. Google’s anxiety in China (as well as Yahoo!’s leaving) may be reasoned by the wrongful understanding to Chinese netizens’ demands and surfing usage, which reflect the Chinese culture and social structure.

Let’s start from a comparision between Baidu.com and Google.com:

Besides the advantage of focusing on the Chinese search engine, Baidu has the totally differenct philosophy from Google. Baidu runs pay for placement service (if you pay for some keywords, your link will be among the first few items of the search result of those keywords, with an “Ads” symbol), while google earns money mainly from Adsense (An Ads system automatically match the page). Baidu provides PostBar and MP3 dowloading as its killer applications, whereas Google develops its applications around the E-mail service (including Gtalk and Wave), which is the core of the US netizens’ online life.

幻灯片5

Google can hire people who understand Chinese culture. But with the strong value oriented mission setting atomosphere, Google’s headquater obviously often conflicted with its Chinese management team. The result is: Chinese Google (Google.cn) is separated from Google’s world, not because of the gov’s censorship, but because of the misunderstanding on what is a good, attractive and sustainable web service for Chinese customers.

幻灯片6

I wish the following websites may be helpful for understanding the unique enviroment of “Cinternet”. The first one is Tianya.cn. Tianya is the most popular and most crowded online forum in China. It’s traffic is ranked No. 90 in the world (Alexa). Click here for more.

幻灯片7

Tianya’s virtual community has a few unique features contributing to its flourish and survival: 幻灯片8

(1)  It has a huge group of volunteer forum-board masters who are in charge of deleting/hiding the defamatory, dissenting and – most specially – inappropriate posts. The board masters are mostly the famous IDs (in many cases most of users don’t know who the people is in real world), they are famous and reliable only because of their reputation established in Tianya.

(2) The un-deletable and un-editable mechanism. No one can delete/edit his/her own posts at the forum boards, even a board master can only manage the posts at his/her board – as a user in other boards, he can do nothing but posting new threads as a normal user. 

(3) If users think a board master is not appropriate, they may leave the complaint at the manage board – and if those complaints are reasonable, the higher webmaster may decide to suspend the board master’s authority – just like the mechanism of “petition” in China’s real life.

(4) Look at that strucutre map again. It’s “separation of the power” looks very like the actual life in China.

幻灯片9

Now this is QQ.comQQ.com is ranked the world 11th website on the matter of traffics (remember, the traffic among the QQ clients are not counted in). Contrary to Google’s matrix based on search engine and E-mail, QQ’s world is based on Instant Message. It is a close system, not providing open API.

幻灯片10

Taobao is not a Chinese Ebay. On the contrary, Ebay’s Chinese branch has been defeated by Taobao. See the above comparision. Alipay, Taobao’s payment tool, archieved over 1.2 billion RMB (171 million USD) of the value of transactions per day on Dec 7th 2009, among its over 200 million users.

幻灯片11

Named after a spice used in Szechuan cooking, Douban allows Chinese consumers to share, tag and browse through one another’s collection of books, music, and movies.

幻灯片12

The contents in Douban are mostly user generated. However Douban is distinct from Youtube: only comments to the items (books, movies and music albums) are posted on the website. In each item’s page, Douban provides the links to the online bookstores (including Amzon’s Chinese site). The prices are easily compared in an item’s page.

Douban’s biggest distinction from the SNS (like facebook) is: it is not a real-name network. Therefore, it is mainly not for social  and personal networking, but for public expression. Besides the review tab in each item’s pages, users can also establish groups and invite others join. There are thousands of groups and thousands of entries are posted every day. Because most users are in anonymous, discussions are very interest-oriented and open-hearted.

If there were no censorship, Douban might be a good platform to form a classic “public sphere”. However, douban enforces a very strict self-censorship policy. Any thread that may “threat the operation of douban in China” will be hidden (only the author can read). The groups include too much “in-harmonious” topics will be closed by douban’s staff – or be hidden and only the members of the group may read those threads. It is obvious that Douban’s operator does not want this websited be involved into any political debate.

幻灯片13

The above is a conclusion to the features of successful websites in China. Practcially speaking, these might be useful for those who wish to invest their money and energy into the Internet industry in China.

Back again to the overall abstract discussion, the world might be flatted by emergence of the Internet, but when more and more parts of this convergence of pink, blue, black or bloody world involve themselves into the Internet, the basic feature of the inter-net as a network of various autonomous systems may be at least continue to be a existence, if not a growing trend, in the new decade. And, with all due desire to the open and equal access to the Internet, I still doubt that the vision of a “single” Internet that believe people must love facebook, twitter and Google wave could be a realist approach to archive that aim.

幻灯片14

iPad is coming … Even in the same culture and society, Apple’s world can be so distinct from the PC’s world (they both connected into the Internet). Imaging how big distinction of the Cinternet’s could be.

Next Page »