Net-savvy easily evade China’s censors – Evan Osnos

From the Chicago Tribune, via the Mercury News (link):

When “Brokeback Mountain” came to China, government censors balked at a gay-cowboy romance and refused to approve the film.

But Chinese movie fans barely noticed. They were too busy watching the film.

Most had picked up a pirated DVD, for about $1, on the street. Others simply downloaded crystal-clear copies from Chinese file-sharing sites. Still more were posting their praise or criticism on one of the country’s raucous Web forums.

China certainly has the most sophisticated censorship regime in the world. And it is utterly outmatched.

The government is adept at curbing expression, sometimes brutally, with prison terms of more than 10 years for unlawful political speech. But understanding China today means looking beyond the confines of mainstream communication — the dutiful newspapers, the censored films, the Google-scrubbed search pages — to a shadow marketplace of ideas in which Chinese citizens are finding, watching and reading a growing share of what they want.

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