Chinese media companies have been earning billion without producing a single original content. They find articles from leading media outlets such as CNBC, Reuters, Bloomberg, Techcrunch, and others and post their translated versions on their websites. This procedure contributed a huge revenue for them over the past few years. Though they are posting original sources and name of an author, this violates intellectual property rights. The plagiarism has become a multibillion dollar industry in the second largest economy in the world.
Qian Chen, a reporter at CNBC found her every article translated and published on a Chinese website. Those media companies translated the article word-by-word and published without giving credit to author or citing CNBC as original source. However, those stories generated millions of views and thousands of comments from readers. Upon sending a legal notice about violation of copyright rights and misinterpretation of content of CNBC, nearly all website removed the article from their websites. Those websites did not reach the media company for gaining reproduction permission. According to local lawyers, these websites have violated copyrights of CNBC.
The Chinese digital media industry is growing with emergence of hundreds of news and information sharing apps and websites. There are more than 600 million people who require updated news and content on online news channels. Such huge consumer base has made the domestic news companies giant multibillion dollar enterprises. According to Reuters, News app Jinri Toutiao, which means “Today’s Headlines”, have raised more than $2 billion and has valuation of $20 billion in August 2017. This app creates customized news feeds and ranked fifth in China based on total time spent on an app by users. Along with this app, there are many other apps which have been gaining enormous revenues in the Chinese online sector.
Chinese regulations do not permit original news reporting in China. Private digital companies are not allowed to hire journalists and publish original stories from local reporting. However, they can post stories from non-Chinese mediums and state-owned media outlets including Xinhuanet.com and People.cn. Private firms do not get permission to create stories from original reporting. Though original stories and extensive analysis attract readers, Chinese private firms need to rely on state-owned agencies or outside mediums to create content for them. To generate traffic and advertising revenue, news agencies need to find content from western sources, summarize or rephrase in a unique way, and publish on their website. However, some of those websites do not rephrase and publish as it is.
Chinese digital media industry has been publishing plagiarized content due to ignorance of law rather than disregard. As there is enormous demand for information, so regulators allowed news agencies to freely publish articles and news updates from other mediums, unless an author prohibits publication.
About a decade ago, everything was reproducible in China. From music to movies, and from software to books could be downloaded for free. However, the scenario is changing. The awareness about intellectual property rights has increased in the China. The number of patent filling has outgrown every other country across the world. According to United Nation, China received more patent applications than the U.S., European Union, South Korea, and Japan combined in 2016. Moreover, the number of lawsuits regarding copyright infringement have increased over the past few years. The changing scenario is giving hope to novelists, screenwriters, filmmakers, and other original content generators who feel their intellectual property violated to speak out and raise their voices against plagiarism.