Month: May 2012

Time for Weibo Community Service?

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Earlier this month, Sina published three documents aimed at establishing a new management structure for its Weibo services, which took effect a few days ago. These come in the wake of the much publicized struggle to establish a real name registration system for microblog services. They are the Sina Weibo Community Management Regulations (Trial), the Sina Weibo Community Pact (Trial), and the Sina Weibo Community Committee System (Trial). These three documents establish a structure with two main components: content requirements for Weibo posts and “community committee” structures to judge on cases violating these requirements. They distinguish between three sorts of prohibited content: harmful information, false information and user-dispute type content. The first category is dealt with by Sina itself, and two sorts of community committees corresponding to the latter two categories.

Harmful information refers to the usual suspects, including “sensitive information”, which endangers national and social security (which essentially repeats most of the content provisions present for the traditional media, and also includes spreading rumours), junk advertising, obscene and sexual information. False information refers to fabricating events or details thereof, exaggerating facts, quoting out of context, etc. User dispute-type content is content that violates matters related to individuals’ civil rights: privacy, reputation, harassment, copyright and passing off.

The interesting aspect of these regulations is the community committee aspect. There will be two sorts of committees, a “normal committee”, which will deal with user disputes, and an “expert committee” to handle issues relating to false information. These are relatively large, with up to 10000 members for the normal committee and 1500 members for the expert committee. Members for both committees selected from volunteer Weibo members, for a term of one year. The requirements for the normal committee are relatively low: being an adult real-name verified Weibo member for half a year, with one hundred posts and fifty fans. Requirement to become an expert committee are more stringent: members must openly publish their real name, and be expert scholars or media professionals.

Case procedures for both committees are similar: when a case is accepted, a web page file is opened where the parties concerned can make statements for a limited period of time. After this, the case is put forward to a select committee of members from the larger committees, who have a limited time to vote on the case and provide their opinion. If a quorum and a majority opinion are reached, the case is decided.

This is a very interesting and novel manner of dealing with this sort of cases, and – to my mind – not one that exists with the large Western media networks. In effect, this structure creates a self-governing body inside Weibo, as long as no sensitive information is involved. Of course, it remains to be seen how these mechanisms are operationalized, but they do have potential to engender very interesting developments within the sphere of social media regulation. In particular, the expert committee will have their work cut out with dealing with false information, and this is where there may be an interesting overlap with alleged harmful information. What if information is harmful, but true as well? At the same time, there are some concerns: perhaps this may result in piecemeal and ad hoc decision-making, rather than the development of a consistent code of online behaviour. In any case, I am looking forward to seeing the first cases roll out and find out how these things work.


Oxford Conference on Chinese Media – 15/16 June (Updated to include agenda)

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China’s media landscape has undergone tremendous changes over the last few years. Technological innovation and the explosion of Internet use have changed the landscape for the dissemination of entertainment and information. Provincial television channels have boomed. Privatization and foreign investment and influence have become important questions for consideration. The cultural industries have become a priority area for further economic development. At the international level, media trade is one of the most prominent issues between China and the United States. Electronic media have also become a channel for bottom-up political activity: increasingly microblogs are used to bring specific incidents into the public sphere, or for satirical expressions. However, so far, questions of how these matters are governed have not yet been studied in depth. This conference aims to identify and discuss relevant questions of emerging issues in Chinese media law and policy.
Friday 15 June
09.15: Registration
09.30 Welcome and Participant Introductions
09.45 Workshop Overview (Dr Rogier Creemers, PCMLP)
10.00-11.30: The Structure of Chinese Media Governance
These two sessions explore how the Chinese media are organized. Topics to be addressed include the development of content regulation in China, the structure of the media control regime and the theoretical background of media governance. 
The Development of the Media Industry and the Reform On Content Regulation: The Case of China (Professor Li Danlin, Communication University of China)
An Historical Overview of Chinese Departments and Ministries Engaged in Chinese Internet Management (Mr Gianluigi Negro, USI Lugano)
For Whom Do You Speak? Looking at Chinese Media Regulation in a Luhmanian Way (Mr Ge Xing, University of Tokyo)
11.30-11.45 Coffee break
11.45-13.00 The Structure of Chinese Media Governance, part II
Chinese Media Regulation and Entrepreneurship: The View From Social Media (Mr Alex Mou,
Chinese Media Governance in a Comparative Perspective (Professor Monroe Price, University of Pennsylvania)
13.00-14.00: Lunch
14.00-15.30: Defamation
The expansion of China’s online population has fundamentally changed the public sphere. As a consequence, the number of disputes between private parties concerning expressions on social media has risen sharply. This session provides insight into different aspects of defamation cases, and aims to theorize the emerging legal doctrines in this field.
Free Speech and Defamation on the Chinese Internet:
A Case Study of the Human Flesh Search Engine (Mr Shen Weiwei, University of Pennsylvania)
The Current Situation, Problems and Countermeasures of Defamation Law in China (Dr Zheng Wenming, Beijing Capital University of Economics and Business)
Exploring the Particularities and Challenges of Media Tort in China: An Empirical Study on 800 Legal Cases (Ms Zhu Li, Wentian Law Firm, Beijing)

15.30-15.45: Coffee Break
15.45- 17.15: Press Regulation
The traditional press remains an important channel for public communication. Traditionally, it was considered to be the mouthpiece of the Party, but as China’s society and political structure has grown more complex, fragmentation has rendered this characterization obsolete. Nonetheless, the Party-State aims to adapt its control over journalism to better suit changed circumstances. This session explores the measures that are being taken, for which purposes and what their impact is.
The Media’s Watchdog Role in China: the State’s Promotion and Journalists’ Interpretation (Ms Maria Repnikova, University of Oxford)
Logic and Dynamics of Gradual Reform on China’s Press Regulation: A Reflection on Enterprise Transformation and Delisting Mechanism (Professor Han Xiaoning, Renmin University of China)
17.30-18.30: Drinks Reception (PCMLP)
Saturday 16 June
09.30-11.00: Telecommunications and Economic Regulation
Following technological development, media require an increasingly complex technological support structure. Questions of network access, telecommunications and network integration are crucial as a framework for the content industries to develop. This session addresses some of these questions, in particular in relation to industrial policy, innovation and their effect on media markets.
The Dragon Awakes: China’s Telecoms, Internet, New Media, and Next Generation Networks (Professor Rohan Kariyawasam and Ms. Chen Zhang, University of Cardiff)
Getting it Both Ways: Media Regulation in China in the Wake of Communications Convergence (Dr Zhongdong Niu, Edinburgh Napier University)
The Chinese Interpretation of Industrial Policy in Telecommunications and Media Markets (Dr Thomas Hart, Information Society Strategy and Policy, Beijing, via Skype)
11.00-11.15: Coffee Break
11.15-12.45: The Market and the Media
Chinese media have become increasingly marketized, as they have emerged as an important locus of economic activity, as well as fulfilling a political role. However, commercial interests often clash with political and social objectives. This session looks at the regulation of advertising as an example of this, as well as the burgeoning animation sector. Furthermore, it explores the links between copyright and media regulation.
Copyright Law and Media Regulation: Interfaces and Conflicts (Dr Rogier Creemers, University of Oxford)
Blindness and Myopia Caused by Self-Interest: Government Failure in Chinese Advertising Regulation (Dr Li Mingwei, Shenzhen University)
The Interplay Between Regulation and the Market in China’s Animation Industry (Dr Chwen Chwen Chen, Vincenzo De Masi, USI Lugano)
12.45-13.15: Concluding Remarks
13.15-14.15: Lunch
Participation in this conference is free of charge, but space is limited so participants are kindly requested to register with Ms. Louise Scott ( A sandwich lunch will be provided on both days.

A revision of the revision: the next step for the Copyright Law

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The NCAC has received 1560 replies to the opinion-seeking draft for the new Copyright Law it sent out in March. These involved 81 of the draft’s 99 articles, with a significant portion directed at the provisions of Article 46, 48, 60 and 70, which were disputed by the music industry. The NCAC will now compose a new draft, which it hopes to present for a second round of commentary at the end of May. Sina reported that reactions were received from industrial organizations and enterprises from the US, the UK, the EU and Japan, as well as Hong Kong and Macau. Focus issues in the revision of the draft will be statutory licensing systems, collective copyright management systems, network service providers’ investigation duties, the legal responsiblities of non-exclusive licence users, compensation as  well as registration systems for copyright and related rights. In a meeting of the expert group on the Copyright Law revision, it was stressed that the revision must be based on the Chinese national cirmcumstances, reflect Chinese characteristics and resolve Chinese problems, and must at the same time consider the acceptance capacity of and the extent of identification by all walks of society.

2012 Work Essentials for Attacking Intellectual Property Rights Infringements and the Production and Sale of Fake and Inferior Products Nationwide

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State Council Secretariat Notice Concerning Printing and Issuing the 2012 Work Essentials for Attacking Intellectual Property Rights Infringements and the Production and Sale of Fake and Inferior Products Nationwide

GBF No. (2012)30

All provincial, autonomous region and municipal People’s Governments, all State Council Ministries and Commissions, all directly subordinate organs:

The “2012 Work Essentials for Attacking Intellectual Property Rights Infringements and the Production and Sale of Fake and Inferior Products Nationwide” have been agreed to by the State Council, are hereby issued to you, please earnestly implement them.

State Council Secretariat

15 May 2012

2012 Work Essentials for Attacking Intellectual Property Rights Infringements and the Production and Sale of Fake and Inferior Products Nationwide

Work to attack intellectual property rights infringement and the production and sale of fake and inferior products nationwide in 2012 must persist in treating both root causes and symptoms, and focusing on prominent matters, completely implement the spirit of the “State Council Opinions Concerning Further Performing Work Attacking Intellectual Property Rights Infringements and the Production and Sale of Fake and Inferior Products” (GF No. (2011)37), revolve around prominent problems of infringement and fakes, launch special campaigns, strengthen criminal judicial attack, establish and perfect long-term mechanisms, strengthen basic construction, strengthen propaganda and guidance, and guarantee work efficiency. Read the rest of this entry »

The WTO A/V Case Resolved? The US-China MOU in Detail.

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On Friday, China and the United States informed the WTO about the key points of the Memorandum of Understanding they had signed earlier this year, which amongst others, expands market access for foreign films and raises the proportion of box office income paid to film studios. This notice clarifies a number of concerns about the MOU, in particular the question about whether it doesn’t violate the MFN rule (it doesn’t, the opportunities of the MOU are open to all WTO members), and the more detailed structure of the agreement. Nonetheless, the laguage of the notice raises as many questions as it solves. Let’s look at the key points of the agreement in turn. Read the rest of this entry »

Notice concerning Accrediting the First Batch of Mixed State-Level Culture, Science and Technology Demonstration Bases

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GKFG No. [2012]631

Relevant provincial, municipal and plan-listed city science and technology offices (committees, bureaus), Party Committee propaganda departments, cultural offices (bureaus), radio, film and television bureaus, press and publications bureaus:

according to the requirements of the 6th Plenum of the 17th Party Congress concerning “Rely on State high and new technology parks, State sustainable development test regions, etc., to build mixed State-level culture, science and technology demonstration bases”, the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Central Propaganda Department have, together with the Ministry of Culture, SARFT and the General Administration of Press and Publications, launched the mixed State-level culture, science and technology demonstration base accreditation work. Through organizing expert appraisal and joint research by relevant departments, it has decided to accredit the Beijing Zhongguancun mixed State-level culture, science and technology demonstration base and 15 others to become the first batch of mixed State-level culture, science and technology demonstration bases (see attachment for a name list). Read the rest of this entry »

Sina Weibo Community Committee System (Trial)

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Chapter I: General provisions

Article 1: In order to safeguard Sina Weibo community order, even better guarantee users’ lawful rights and interests, The Sina Weibo Community Management Centre (hereafter designated as “the Web Site”), has formulated this System according to the “Sina Weibo Community Pact “Trial”). Read the rest of this entry »

Sina Weibo Community Pact (Trial)

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In order to establish a harmonious, rule of law and healthy network environment, safeguard the order of the Sina Weibo community, and even better guarantee the lawful rights and interests of users, Sina Weibo has formulated this Pact together with users. Read the rest of this entry »

Sina Weibo Community Management Regulations (Trial)

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Chapter I: General provisions

Article 1: In order to safeguard the order of the Sino Weibo community, even better guarantee the lawful rights and interests of users, Sina Weibo Community Management Centre (hereafter designated as “the Web Site” has formulated these Regulations on the basis of existing laws and regulations and the “Sina Weibo Community Pact (Trial)”. Read the rest of this entry »

“12th Five-Year” Development Plan for the Internet Sector

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Table of contents

I, Development situation

(1) Internet use has developed swiftly

(2) Internet infrastructure capacity has been enhanced continuously

(3) Internet technology innovation capacity has been incessantly strengthened

(4) The beginnings of an Internet sector with international influence have been shaped

(5) A management structure for the Internet sector has been basically established

(6) The Internet has become an important engine and basic platform for economic and social development.

II, Development circumstances

(1) The position of strategic Internet infrastructure has become more prominent

(2) Internet use incessantly opens up and develops new aspirations

(3) Internet technology change and network evolution accelerates and moves forward

(4) The challenges of network and information security tend to become more severe

(5) Global Internet management strength incessantly expands

(6) Our country’s Internet is at an important juncture for innovation and upgrading

III, Guiding ideology, basic principles and development objectives

(1) Guiding ideology and basic principles

(2) Development objectives

IV, Development tasks

(1) Innovating and applying structures, fostering the development of new Internet business models

(2) Stimulating the integration of the two civilizations, completely supporting economic and social development

(3) Establishing a “Broadband China”, moving network infrastructure optimization and upgrading forward”

(4) Moving the whole arrangement forward, evolving towards the development of next-generation Internet

(5) Making breakthroughs in key technologies, ramming down core basic sectors

(6) Strengthening top-layer design, establishing advanced and complete Internet standard systems

(7) Perfecting supervision and management systems, forging a sincere Internet market environment abiding by the rules

(8) Strengthening systems and methods, strengthening basic Internet management

(9) Strengthening structure construction, upgrading network and information security guarantee capacity

V, Guarantee measures

(1) Perfecting and guaranteeing sector management legal and regulatory structures guaranteeing the healthy development of the Internet

(2) Strengthening Internet management systems and management capacity construction

(3) Establishing guiding mechanisms for healthy Internet development

(4) Strengthening policy support for Internet infrastructure construction

(5) Promoting and perfecting Internet development fiscal, financial and intellectual property rights policies

(6) Fostering and supporting small and medium Internet enterprise growth

(7) Strengthening the construction of Internet specialist talent structures

(8) Promoting and perfecting international Internet governance mechanisms Read the rest of this entry »