Plagiarism EXPO-sed

Recently it came to light that the Chinese Expo 2010 theme song was actually copied from a 1997 Japanese pop song.  The whole thing is a big embarrassment not just for the organizers but also for the myriad of stars, including Jackie Chan, who starred in the video. 

My favorite site for this story is China Smack.  They have copies of the songs if you are interested in listening and comparing.  Also entertaining are the sarcastic comments by Chinese netizens feigning an uproar and blaming the Japanese for plagiarizing the Chinese Expo theme song by using a time machine. 

Haibao, the mascot of the Shanghai Expo 2010. A plagiarism scandal has developed around the event's theme song.

Haibao, the mascot of the Shanghai Expo 2010. A plagiarism scandal has developed around the event's theme song.

The whole situation is perfectly ironic.  The Expo is considered a huge opportunity for China to highlight its incredible economic growth and to present itself as open for business to the world.  But the fact that the country still permits extensive copying of everything from movies to software is a huge problem.  It is sadly fitting to see that the issue of plagiarism has even come to contaminate the symbolic song of the nation’s largest symbolic business event to date.  Hopefully this huge “loss of face” will spark some more systemic changes in this area.

To further prove the point, yesterday the New York Times ran a story about how the Chinese police are “cracking down” on pirated movies and music in preparation for the expo.  But in reality, store owners are just temporarily moving those items to back rooms, which are still accessible to the public.  This kind of “hide it under the bed so mom can’t see it” behavior seems to be right out of an adolescent’s playbook.  In fact, on further consideration, it probably is.

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2 comments

  1. As weird as this may sound, I like China’s response to copyright protection more than America’s. They let anything go, while we have major corporations with outdated business models who can only make money by suing 80 year old ladies. The MPAA and RIAA seem like they belong in China, not here. I’ll bet Chinese bootleg movies don’t have that annoying FBI warning like the movies we BUY here in America.

    Did I just take China’s side on something? What’s happening to me?

    1. I agree that some US companies’ approaches to copyrights and distribution are outdated and need reconsidering. However, I hesitate to say that the Chinese “system” of IP protection is better. Basically it’s just full of hypocrisy…when someone in China wants a foreign product, they just copy and distribute it. But when Google tries to digitize some Chinese authors work, everyone is in an uproar. A friend and I believe that it won’t be until China actually starts to do the heavy investment in R&D in new technologies that it’s going to develop an actually IP protection system. Right now lax enforcement is to its advantage economically so it goes with that.

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