Zhan Jiang: Web Company Listings Must Face Scrutiny

China Media Project translates an article by Zhan Jiang which ran in the Beijing Times about the different standards applied to official and private web companies in legal cases over the illegal republication of news:

…The recent case brought by The Beijing News against Zhejiang Online in the Hangzhou Intermediate Court should make people turn their heads. Two years after The Beijing News brought its case, the Hangzhou court has still not rendered a verdict, but instead demands that The Beijing News bring a separate lawsuit for each of the 7,706 articles [for which copyright was allegedly violated]. The Beijing News has said it cannot agree to this, and so the Hangzhou Intermediate Court has rejected the suit outright.

Commentators have already pointed out that in this case the Hangzhou court has stepped way beyond the maximum trial period of one year. As to the Hangzhou Intermediate Court breaking this case into 7,706 separate cases, the former head of the intellectual property office of the Supreme Court, Jiang Zhipei (蒋志培), has said that “judicial organs should not commit such errors of common sense.” For Zhejiang Online’s part, their grounds of opposition have run as follows: all of the articles were “reasonably used,” and they are part of the “national team” (国家队), [in other words, state media], and “an important priority website of Zhejiang Province.”

When the local court decision has been infected by local protectionism even as these instances of widespread intellectual property violation are so plain to see, this means, I’m afraid, that Zhejiang Online, which refuses to acknowledge its own illegal activities but is now on a list of 10 websites preparing to go public, must deal with the problem of “credibility” before it can hope for a successful market listing.

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