China vows copyright protection for online news media


China will crack down on illegal reproduction of online news, the country’s media watchdog said, days after an influential Chinese news magazine complained publicly about what it described as unauthorised republishing of its stories.

China’s government has long vowed to rein in intellectual property infringement from knock-off goods to the theft of commercial secrets. But violations remain rampant.

While the republishing of other news outlets’ articles is common practice in China, some companies in the country’s increasingly competitive media industry have become more vocal about what they say is unauthorised use of original content.

“We must strengthen enforcement and increase the strength of punishment for those that do not make corrections,” State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) Deputy Director Yan Xiaohong said on Thursday.

Yan, also a deputy director at the National Copyright Administration of China, told a forum of media experts and officials from Chinese news outlets that an “efficient and low-cost authorisation mechanism” should be created to safeguard copyright.

“The key is that this type of use should be authorised and paid for, and not used as one pleases. Speaking of copyright, orderly, standardised use is an aspect that we need to work on and reinforce,” Yan said, in a speech published by the official Xinhua news agency.

A trend towards greater commercialisation in Chinese media, still heavily controlled by the state, has put pressure on companies to generate greater profits.

Yan’s comments come about a week after the influential news outlet Caixin publicly condemned Shanghai-based news portal for what it said was repeated unauthorised reproduction of its articles.

“As news media, news ignores relevant national legal statutes and regulations, infringes on Caixin’s rights, violates the most fundamental professional ethics and baseline values of journalists, and gravely disrupts the normal order of the media market,” Caixin said on its website.

The statement, from late November, was the latest in a series of notices from Caixin targeting various outlets for copyright violations in recent years.

Some of the news items that Caixin complained about contained openly available information and its own analysis, said in a statement on its website.

It said articles that cited Caixin contained links to the original work. also said it would “clarify responsibility as soon as possible and correct mistakes if any were made”.