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2010年4月22日 (木)

上海万博“盗作” 海外の知的財産を守る契機に

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Apr. 22, 2010)
China must protect intellectual property
上海万博“盗作” 海外の知的財産を守る契機に(4月21日付・読売社説)

In response to a rising chorus of accusatory voices from Hong Kong and Japan, organizers of the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai apparently had no choice but to suspend the use of the event's promotional theme song, which critics have said is plagiarized.

The expo's secretariat took the step after it was pointed out that the official song for the event, which opens May 1, has a melody extremely similar to that of a song by Japanese singer-songwriter Mayo Okamoto, titled "Sono Mama no Kimi de Ite" (Stay the way you are).

After soliciting works from the public to choose a promotional song for the exposition, the secretariat reportedly selected a piece submitted by a popular Chinese composer after screenings by experts.

After its release in China at the end of March, the song helped popularize and boost awareness of the exposition, partly because of a number of celebrities singing the song.


It had a familiar ring

Some time later, however, messages began to be posted on the Internet, alleging that the piece was plagiarized.

Apparently in a flurry, the exposition secretariat secretly contacted Okamoto's office in the middle of this month, asking for permission to use her work as an official PR song for the event.

In response, Okamoto expressed her intention to accept the proposal. As a result, the organizers may once again use the PR song, but this time as Okamoto's work.

Details about how the song will be used reportedly will be finalized later. But the exposition secretariat must take procedures in line with international rules on creative works while taking into consideration Okamoto's intentions.

In China, production of goods bearing counterfeit brands as well as pirated music, films and game software is flourishing as a full-blown industry.

Given this situation, Japan, the United States and European countries have been asking China to take effective measures to protect their intellectual property rights, such as through copyrights and patent rights. Following such requests, relevant legislation has been established to a certain degree, but as a matter of fact, it has proved barely effective.

Even if one demands compensation for copyright infringement in a trial in China, one will be able to win only a minimum amount of money, a pattern that apparently fails to deter infringement of intellectual property.


China should fall into step

In addition, because creators in China, such as lyricists and composers, do not receive sufficient reward for their own works, they are believed to have little sense of guilt in copying other people's works.

In the latest plagiarism dispute, however, the Chinese side in effect admitted it was at fault, an extremely rare step taken by the country.

We assume the authorities in China finally found it impossible to ignore the rising public voices against the alleged plagiarism because the exposition is an international event.

The Shanghai Expo will be held under the theme of "Better city, better life." Through the event, China is trying to publicize its economic development and boost its image.

If that is the case, the country also needs to more seriously tackle the protection of intellectual property rights and bring its system into conformity with common practices in the rest of the world.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 21, 2010)
(2010年4月21日01時43分  読売新聞)


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