Jul 30, 2010

The Jailbreaking Exemption and Apple Peel 520

As it has been known by all creatures on earth (maybe except lawyers), the U.S. Library of Congress issued a statement on Monday that legalized “jailbreaking” wireless telephone handsets.

It is no doubt a good news for jailbreakers, the unauthorized App developers, as well as iPhone buyers. Now you can strut up to the black corner of the computer arcade, looking straight inside the eyes of the guy who knows how to satisfy your desire (of anything that Jobs don't want you do, such as watching flash video), and speak laudly: "break it, please."

"Wait, wait! It's an iPod ... OK ... if you like to call it iTouch, then it is an iTouch... It's not an iPhone, I mean ... not a telephone handset."


Let's stop the drama and go back to the law:

At least from the literal meaning of the newly annouced exemption, iTouch owners may be excluded from the benificiaries. Here is the fulltext of the exemption:

... Persons making noninfringing uses of the following six classes of works will not be subject to the prohibition against circumventing access controls (17 U.S.C. § 1201(a)(1)) until the conclusion of the next rulemaking.


(2) Computer programs that enable wireless telephone handsets to execute software applications, where circumvention is accomplished for the sole purpose of enabling interoperability of such applications, when they have been lawfully obtained, with computer programs on the telephone handset.

Is an iTouch a "wireless telephone handset"? I don't know. At least Apple, even before such exemption promulgated, has already said it isn't a telephone - it is a great iPod, a pocket computer and a game player, but not a telephone... because only iPhone will be a telephone. (How about iPad 3G? Too big to be a "handset"?)
While in practice, if you do own an iTouch, you must have tried to make it being a telephone - The easiest way is to install a Skype. That dose not need jailbreak.

Recently, there is a more exciting way to turn iTouch to a telephone, a real GSM mobile phone. After jailbreaking, you may turn your iTouch to be a real telephone in the near future by wearing this: Apple Peel 520.
This adapter not only offers voice calling and text messaging (presumably requiring a jailbroken iPod touch for the apps; GPRS not possible yet), but it also doubles up as an 800mAh battery and provides 4.5 hours of call time or 120 hours of standby juice.

This is interesting... And by the way, this is made in China. China do have the regulation prohibiting the circumvention tools. While such regulation does not have a mechanism of the administrative exemption.  It's hard to say whether the copyright law can be used to prohibit the distribution of Apple Peel 520. In fact, from my knowledge, another heavier sword over Apple Peel would be: "Network Access License for Telecommunication", which is issued by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. Each model of cellphone must be licensed before being sold legally in China...again, license issued by the government might be a bigger problem than the copyright license.

BTW, "520" means "I love you" in Chinese SMS language.

Jul 10, 2010

Google’s ICP License Renewed, and ISP Liability Released

The game of “Spoting the Difference" starts again!
Google's ICP license renewed. See the captured today's Google.cn web page below (left), and compare it with the page in last week (right).

Google.cn on 9 July 2010:

Google.cn on 4 July 2010:

Exactly as what I predicted, Google is trying to make Google.cn being a non-search engine website. It now places "Music", "Translation" and "Shopping" at the web page. These are what Google wishes to keep on running in China. While the search engine service of Google.cn is replaced by a link to google.com.hk. Legally speaking, Google.cn is not providing search engine service currently. It is merely a link to another website. Just like the links added in any of our own web posts.
Interestingly, please pay attention to those minor changes. It seems Google's lawyers are demonstrating their legal skills. For example, in the 4 July version, it says "we have moved to (我们已经移至) google.com.hk", while in current page, "we have moved to" has been moved. Why? I assume the reason might be: The sentence "WE have moved to" acknowledged that the one who runs "google.com.hk" is identically the same one who runs "google.cn". In that circumstance, Google.cn would still be critisized by Chinee authority on providing searching results including "illegal" materials. Without such sentence, when it is accused by the government, Google China may say that it is an independent legal entity who is distinctive from the operator of google.com.hk.
Besides the censorship topic. Let's discuss something about intellectual property law (this might be more interesting): Is there any difference between providing a link to a search engine and providing a search engine service per se?

Yes, of course.
When you place a link to a web page. You will not be a service provider, therefore you will not be liable for the copyright/trademark infringement even when the linked page is full of infringing materials. If a right owner wants your money, he/she at least has to send you a notice saying "hey! The web page you are linking is full of my proprietary stuff. Please move that hyperlink!" After you recieved such letter, in China, you may have to remove the link if there is really infringing contents at the web page you are linking to. However, now in the Google's circumstance, this will no be a problem because google.cn is linking to google.com.hk, which is owned by google.cn's parent company.

In short, by replacing search box with a hyperlink to google.com.hk, Google.cn may escape from being accused for vicarious liability, which is by far a "killing application" of the intellectual property holders in this era of the Cambrian explosion of the Internet.

Statutory Damages Flexible: Tenenbaum Case Updated

Represented by Professor Charles Nesson, Joel Tenenbaum pulled one back in his P2P downloading case, in which he was sentenced $675,000 dollars statutory damages to the copyright owners.

I was sitting in the hearing when Charlie presented his move of either placing a new trial or granting a remittitur. Briefly, Charlie's argument is: 675,000 dollars is unconstitutionally high, and therefore instructing the jury that maximum amount should be a mistrial.

After five months awaiting, Judge Nancy Gertner agreed Joel's motion of remittitur by reducing the damages Joel owes to $67,500 - one-tenth of the original one. In her ruling, she wrote:

Reducing the jury’s $675,000 award also sends another no less important message: The Due Process Clause does not merely protect large corporations, like BMW and State Farm, from grossly excessive punitive awards. It also protects ordinary people like Joel Tenenbaum.

Still, for each song, Joel has to pay $2,250 (USD), and if my memory serves, upon what is the appropriate amount of damages, "30 Dollars", Charlie said after the hearing.

Jul 5, 2010

Choice of Forum for the Possible GoogleCN Dispute

As I have discussed in a previous entry, if Google’s ICP license is conditioned to provide filtered web search results, Google may not provide search engine service via Google.cn anymore. Google.cn may become a hub of Google’s services designed specifically for China’s market. Until today, the renewal of the ICP license for Google.cn is still pending, and the webpage located at Google.cn is still a simple link to Google.com.hk. In this post, I'd rather to discuss a more lawyering thing: is there any difference between shutting down Google.CN and blocking Google.COM.HK?

Yes, they are different.

If a service provided by Google China, a Chinese company, were shut down by the government, the forum of questioning such shutting down should be Chinese judicial or administrative dispute resolutions. The game players thus are Google China and specific government agency who makes the decision. If Chinese law do request ISPs filterring the search result,  then Google would hardly be a winner of the that kind of dispute (even regardless the "political influences" to the cases).

If an online service provided by Google Inc. (a corporation in California), or Google.com.hk (operated by a company registered in Hong Kong) were denied to be accessed by China's government, a new forum could be chosen by Google - WTO.

Yes, a complaint at WTO's DSB should be filed by a government. But the industry would always be an initiative force of the international trade disputes. Furthermore, because Chinese court has not been empowered to review the legality of administrative regulations, reviewing them through an international institution can at leaste be one of the choices of challeging those regulations. 

Now the question is: whether China is burdened to open search engine market to foreign companies?

China has made its sectoral commitments  on providing market access for some "telecommunications services". Specifically, China committed to open the market for "data/online processing services", which is the class 843 of the UN Central Product Classfication (CPC). But China did not promise to open market for "database services", which is CPC 844.

In the 2009 version of the CPC, the "web search portal content" has been included in CPC 843. Although China's commitments was made based on the CPC in 2001, some WTO cases (shrimp-turtle case, and Gambling case) has supported an evolutionary approach or a dynamic approach. Both of them would be good for including search engine service in China's commitments.

The next question is: whether China's activities constitute a violation of its commitments? That would be a much longer discussion. And I would not be able to illustrate it at the current stage. Anyway, an overall strategy is of very important for both parties. Before stepping forward, both Google and China's government officials should pay attention to the differences between "blocked" and "shut down", and between domestic law and international law.

Jul 3, 2010

Would Google.CN be a "Non-Search Engine" Site?

As you may have known, the domain "Google.cn" had been automatically redirected to "Google.com.hk" since this March. And last week, Google stopped such automatic redirection, and launched a web page at Google.cn. By clicking anywhere of the page, a visitor will be linked to Google’s Hong Kong site.  (please try http://www.google.cn )
Google’s SVP David Drummond announced the official reason of such change (underlines added).

“...it’s clear from conversations we have had with Chinese government officials that they find the redirect unacceptable—and that if we continue redirecting users our Internet Content Provider license will not be renewed (it’s up for renewal on June 30). Without an ICP license, we can’t operate a commercial website like Google.cn—so Google would effectively go dark in China … instead of automatically redirecting all our users, we have started taking a small percentage of them to a landing page on Google.cn that links to Google.com.hk — users can conduct web search or continue to use Google.cn services like music and text translate, which we can provide locally without filtering. This approach ensures we stay true to our commitment not to censor our results on Google.cn and gives users access to all of our services from one page… As a company we aspire to make information available to users everywhere … We are therefore hopeful that our license will be renewed on this basis so we can continue to offer our Chinese users services via Google.cn.”
Regardless the political concern of Chinese authority,  the current web page at GOOGLE.CN and the above announcement can be described as a smart lawyering thing. By this change, Google may claim that GOOGLE.CN is not using the prohibited URL forwarding technology. And because the linked page (google.com.hk) has nothing but a blank search box and some links for the “Google.cn services like music and text translate”, Google is hardly to be condemned as an “illegal” or an “unmoral” one even in the tone of Chinese offical news agencies.
I would not like to bet that Google could be blocked out of China entirely.  But who knows what will happen? If Google is really blocked on mainland China, some clues might be found through what has happened.
Firstly, Google wish to keep its “Google.cn services” at Chinese market. Since 2005, Google has launched some unique Chinese applications at Google.cn.   These services are either not available (e.g. www.google.cn/music) or unuseful (e.g. laiba, Google Book Chinese, Google Scholar Chinese etc.) for the users outside of China. Therefore, Google hope to leave them even when its search engine is blocked.
The circled things are all Chinese applications.
Second, Google wish to “offer unfiltered search in simplified Chinese”, but please be careful, Google does not say whether such unfiltered search will be available on mainland China, or at least available through Google.CN. Technically, language preference can be individually adjusted by any user in any Google account at any Google’s gTLD domain name. Therefore, Google will definitely continue to offer such service no matter China block Google.cn or not.  Or, to some extrem, Google China (which is by law an independent Chinese company) may even continue to use Google.cn as an entrence of thlse Chinese Google services, while (if not too weird) such page may not include a search engine unless you log in with your Google.com account (which is a service provided by a foreign company).  By the way, the similiar situation has actually been happening for a long time - Google.CN has never provided E-mail service.
I will discuss this later on.

Mar 31, 2010

Let’s Discuss the “Cinternet” and the “Cyber-pluralism” a Little bit More


In the luncheon talk on 16 March at Berkman Center, I used the term of “Cinternet” and proposed the “Cyber-pluralism”. Nevertheless, the presentation was focused on the cases of some Chinese websites.  This may make audience think that I am arguing for an isolated network. Hence hereby I talk a little bit more about it. And looking for criticisms.


A. About the “Cinternet”

The wording of "Cinternet" does not mean I think there is a network isolated from the Internet with clear physical or software boarders. In other words, the term "Cinternet" is not a "part" of the Internet, but a collection of some impressions of the Internet, and the style of the Internet reflecting those impressions.

Different people may have distinct impressions of the Internet. In a teenage girl’s impression, the Internet might be a sphere full of free information resources, enjoyable games and probably a free place for music download.
In her grandmother’s mind, the Internet might be a technological monster with full of porn and dangerous social networking messages. As a combination of the girl and her granny’s impressions, the Internet may become a world with a lot of freedom and at the same time a lot of dangerous information. However, in an engineer’s impression, the texts, images and voices that makes the granny and the kid happy or sad may be all the same – no matter the Child pornography video or the mp3 files - they are just data. He may simply think the Internet as a new tool of transmission and communication, and in his impression, the Internet is different from the previous networks (like the broadcasting networks) not only because of the interactive communication, but also because of the decentralized and distributed way of transmitting data packages. Furthermore, different programmers may also hold different impressions to the Internet: if you are one who focuses on the online payment, you may worry more about the security of the transmission; while if you are a P2P software developer, you may think more about the efficiency of the transmission.

Back to the “Cinternet”, I use this term firstly to summarize an "Internet" reflecting the combination of the impressions of the Chinese Internet users, policy makers and ISPs. In other words, this term can be roughly understood as "the Internet in the impressions of Chinese people.” Secondly, the impressions will react the Internet and be reflected in the mode of E-commerce, the way of Internet governance and even the style of the webpage.  Therefore, the “Cinternet” is the Internet reflecting the Chinese legal, cultural, political, linguistic and even group psychological characters." More importantly, this is a description but not a definition.  The “Cinternet” is not the "Chinese (linguistic) Internet" - a simple Chinese translation of the Facebook's interface does not make the Facebook being a Chinese website. It is not the "Internet (physically) in China" because there are a lot of Chinese websites are stored in the servers out of China. It is not a simple collection of ".cn" domains because this domain can be used by anyone, and a lot of Chinese websites are using .com, .net, .cc, .tv, etc.


B. About the “Cyber-pluralism”

What I want to argue is simple: the social structure and social norms, as well as the legal concepts may affect online ecology profoundly, hence the "single" Internet is not a truth but only an imagination.

The cyber-pluralism is an approach of observing the Internet. The Cyber world is a world with diversities and it can hardly stay  beyond the real world independently without the influences of different culture and regimes. No matter whether you “stand for a single Internet” or not, the truth is that the laws (including “living law”) and the cultures have embedded into the digital codes.  Without this pluralistic patience, one may neglect what is happening and what has happened in China and the Cinternet. I hope the approach of cyber-pluralism can provide a way for both the eastern and the western peoples understand each other.  More importantly, so long as the people’s impressions of the Internet are transforming, those diversities will refresh themselves continuously. 

A few people asked me what is the “common value” of the Internet, or do I think that something should or should not be a universal human right in the Internet age. I think these questions are actully about religion and I really don’t have idea on how to answer them.

Furthermore,  I prefer to discuss the possible trends of the Internet rather than the “common denominators” of the Internet because the latter may lead the “uncommon” aspects of the Internet being marginalized. The Internet as a network of networks is confronting with two possible trends –splitting or collaborating. In some aspects, the splitting may be inevitable, while in other aspects, once most (if not all) stakeholders (either in the east or in the west) accept that their individual impressions of the Internet should not definitely be the solely right one, the connection among the networks (no matter at infrastructure level or at the legal level) may be more smooth.


By the way, I am not a cultural relativist because I believe, and I have witnessed: it is changing.

Mar 20, 2010

English Abstracts of Chinese Entries from 25 Jan to 20 March

Here is the collection of the English abstracts for 21 Chinese entries published at BlawgDog from 25 Jan. 2010 to 20 Mar. 2010. For the English readers' reference.

A book Chapter in LI Zuming (ed.), E-commerce Law, Beijing: University of International Business and Economics Press (2009), 19,000 Chinese words. The excerpt edition of 11,000 Chinese words is provided in this entry at BlawgDog.
The E-commerce should not escape itself from the taxation. However, the troditional tax law and taxation policies would not cope with the new challenges including the identification of the taxpayer, the jurisdiction issues, the "new" objects of taxation, etc. This chapter firstly analyzed the impacts of the online commerce to the traditional tax law. Then it introduced the achievements either in the academia or in the legislations in various countries. China's relevant taxation policies and the future development are discussed in the third section of this chapter. To make this book more practical,  although the structure of the chapter can be divided to the above three parts, the whole chapter always focuses on the possible dilemma as well as the solution in the context of Chinese taxation system.
A senior Chinese Wikipedian wrote a post on his blog saying about his suggestion for the amendment of Chinese Copyright Law. The suggestions indicated three aspects of Copyright law: (1) Works made by/for the government; (2) the possibility of waiving the moral rights; (3) term of copyright protection. However, his understanding to the copyright law is not professional enough. I write this essay to illustrate the relevant knowledges and my arguments in these three concerns: (1) it is difficult to judge whether or not a work is of the governmental work. (2) some moral rights can be waived, but some others can not – not because they are “personal rigts” but because the logic essence of them (read more by clicking here); (3) the uncertainty of the death of authors is the major reason of orpan works problem.

Doc Searls searched “the Internet is” in Google and twitter and find some interesting results (at here). I tried to search “The Internet is” in Chinese (互联网是) at Google and Baidu. The result seems more interesting: (1) Google’s 30th effective result appears in page 10 (10 items per page), while Baidu’s appears in page 7. Google is proved again not better than Baidu in Chinese search; (2) The overlap rate of two search engines’ results are very low. (3) the results in Chinese search are very focusing on the political and economic topics, while in the search results of “the Internet is” in English are more virious in cutrual, humanity and literature aspects.

The “two national meetings” held in March is one the most important political matters in each year. This three entries collected the opinions and proposals raised by people’s representatives and members of CPPCC. Here are some examples:
(1) Yanqi (member of CPPCC) suggested to close all net cafes and take them over to the government;
(2) Shen Changfu (a people’s representative) proposed to classify the online expressions, and promulgate a compulsory rule requiring the online game service providers interrupt the services each day for a certain amount of hours.
(3) Xu Long (a people’s representative) proposed to make a gerneral E-commerce Law;
(4) Shen Mingcai (a people’s representative) proposed to establish a national universal platform that provide the links to every government agencies in all levels of the government;
(5) Xia Ji’en (a people’s representative) proposed to promulgate laws encouraging the people starting their own businesses online;
(6) Gao Wanneng (a people’s representative) proposed net cafes stopping service by 24:00;
(7) China National Democratic Construction Association proposed to increase the job vacancies of the Internet industry;
(8) Hou Xinyi (a member of CPPCC) suggested to make all the proposals and suggestions by the representatives public;
(9) People’s representatives suggest the regulation of “Real Name surfing in the background”, which means requiring netizens register the real name before approved to access the Internet, but their real name needs not to be released to the public when they are surfing the Internet;
(10) Li Yizhong, Minister of Industry and Information Technology commented to the resent Google’s news (read here the news at People’s Daily English)

The definition of “the right of performance” in China’s Copyright Law has inherent shortcomings. It uses the term “播送” (communicate) but not “perform” as the predicate of the sentence. The legislators attempted to regulate the mechanical perfomance, but they forgot that the word “performance” itself in the Berne Convention includes the meaning of mechanical performance. The “communication” is another concept in another totally different context. China’s Copyright Law confused the two conducts and this leads the provisions hard to be understood. Eventually, this courses the overlap and obscuration between the right of performance and the right of broadcast, between the right of performance and the right of presentation, as well as between the right of performance and the right of communication to the public through information network.

This article briefly discussed the process of a legal academic writing. It argues that a good author should firstly think like a counsellor who always solve the problem with the most efficient exsiting laws, legal logics and skills. They will exhause, and only exhause the materials related to the problem. Then a further endeavor of the academic author should be compare the pros and cons of different approaches of solving the problem, and find the best solution based on some sorts of values. Lastly, if the above jobs have been done by others, a researcher may try to move from the legal study to the legislative study, with the doctrinal, economic, sociological and even religious approaches – while these may exceed the narrow sence of the legal research.

On 26 February, China amended its Copyright Law: (1) deleted the provision in Article 4(1):
Works the publication and dissemination of which are prohibited by law shall not be protected by this Law.
The copyright owners shall not violate the Constitution and the laws, and shall not prejudice the public interests when they are exporing their copyright. The State administrate the publication and dissemination according to the laws.
(2) Added a new article as Article 26 (registration of mortgage with copyright. This has actually regulated previously in other regulations since 1990s).

A micro-blog acount at People’s Daily’s website (an official news paper) was marked as “verified”. Then it got thousands of followers in a few hours. Then it was proved only a bug of the system – Hu has had a “dialog” with netizens before at the platform of the People’s Daily. Since then an “real name” account was created. When the People’s Daily released its micro-blog service, those “real name” accounts are automatically created a twitter-like page with the mark of “verified”.
This story tell us the so-called “real name” system can hardly garantee the “real” “real name”. Even the President may BE ESTABLISHED a Real Name blog without his consent. What we need to focus on is not the law of real-name access the Internet, but the law of personal data protection, no matter it is associated with a real name or a false one. The law of real-name registration system is based on the presumption of mistrust, and will increase such mistrust among the stakeholders. The law of personal data protection is based on the presumption of trust, and will decrease the misturst eventually.

In this issue edited by Luckie Hong, the following news are included:
(1) SNDA’s literature site developed with the copyright strategy;
(2) Xinmate (a shopping mall) was found copyright infringement in a circumstance it rent the floor to a audio & video shop where the pirated copies of CDs were sold;
(3) dianping.com filed a copyright litigation against aibang.com (a verdict search engine provider);
(4) Littlesheep (a chain resturants company) filed a case against National Trademark Review and Adjudication Board;
(5) Google sent a lawyer’s letter to goojje.com, a website provide integration of the Google and Baidu’s search resutls;
(6) “Loungjing” tea was registered as a collective trademark and only providers in Zhejiang Province can use this mark;
(7) two patent granted to World Wide Stationery Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (a Chinese company) were ruled invalide by a U.S. court (WWS v. U.S. Ring);
(8) Lifetime (a U.S. company) sued three Chinese companies for patent infringement;
(9) a color TV patent pool was established on Feb 2010.

This short essay is about the Li Zhuang case and the form of rule of law. It is strange that the feeling of reading the news of the Li Zhuang case in the Langdell Library at Harvard. As a Chinese lawyer, I can feel not only the text of the news but also the profound tacit knowledge behind the sentences. When I raised my head from those news, looked up the portraits of those legal giant in the history of the U.S., it seems I suddenly traveled back the time and touched the difficulty of the form of rule of law. For most of the old books in the shelves, they are not nessessary to be drawn out because the rule of law had been blent in the blood of the society after the struggles of the lawyers over years. And China is experiencing such courses of blending. 

This is a greeting post for the Lunar New year.

Edited by Luckie Hong, the following news are included:
(1) New progresses of Hengyuanxiang’s trademark case;
(2) In a case between China Audio-Video Copyright Association and a Karaoke bar, a court in Fuzhou (capital city of Fujian Province) ruled that the defendent infringed the “right of public performance”;
(3) A software license includes an arbitration clause; afte the license is due, the licensee still used the software; the licenser file the infringement litigation but the court supported the opposition of jurisdiction based on the arbitration clause;
(4) over 30 companies use Fuji mark at their lift and elevator products but none of them registered the trademark; now they are sued by the trademark holder;
(5) Based on the new evidence submitted to the court of the second instance, the Chinese GEORGE company wins the “GEORGE and figure” trademark dispute against Walmart in Beijing Higher People’s Court;
(6) A Yunnan company filed a Trademark Cancellation Application to the “coffee mate” owned by Nestle;
(7) An officer in SIPO said the first compulsory license may issued to the medicines relevant to the public health;
(8) Haier wins a patent (ZL200820065744.1) litigation against its employee;
(9) Beijing's amended intellectual property law holds dangers (WSJ Article).

XU Wei, co-author of Blawgdog posted this article. He argues that the newly promulgated Tort Liability Law wrongfully confused the different criteria of liability.

China Audio-Video Copyright Association (CAVCA) annouced that the cost of its collective management is 50% of the income of the royalties. This essay compared the ASCAP (11.5%), the GEMA (13.92%) and even the Music Copyright Society of China (16.72%). The reason of such a high cost is: CAVCA is running the collective management as a profitable business. So it established a network of commercial companies around China. Such investment violated the Regulations on the Collective Management of Copyright.

This post reported the rulling of the case. And provided the brief of the case and the link at the Wikipedia.

In this essay, I introduced the guys never stand up and applause at Obama’s State of the Union Address. They are the millitary forces and the Justices of the Supreme Court. And narrated the news of Justice Alito’s murmur when Obama critisized the decision of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. In the end of essay, I wrote: the democracy without constitutionalism will easily turns to disturbance, and the constitutionalism without real judicial independence will easily be back to the dictatorship.

Edited by Luckie Hong, the following news are collected:
(1) In CAVCA’s 170 million income of royalties, 50% is counted as the cost;
(2) Ministry of Industry and Information Technology is drafting the regulation on the digital publication;
(3) A pleading of illicit compelition was filed to a Shanghai court by Tencent (QQ’s oporator);
(4) the “Cabernet” trademark case has entered into the court of second instance; this dispute has lasted for 8 years;
(5) The image of “Dragon Prince” in a popular cartoon was registered as a trademark; now the trademark owner and the copyright owner sue each other for infringement respectively;
(6) ChongQing promulgated the local regulations to encourge the bank loan with the pledge of the Trademark as a property;
(7) According to the stastics of the WIPO, Chinese applicants filed 7971 PCT application (30.1% annual increase, and the most rapid increase in the world), and Huawei ranks the 2nd applicant around the world;
(8) Shinco settled its patent dispute with MPEG LA;
(9) a 18 year old man sued Samsung for patent infringement.

In this post, I illustrated the concept of Public Domain (based my on research) and introduced the contents of the Public Domain Manifesto.

(1) Google and China Society of Literature Copyright continues negociate on the Goole Books;
(2) “Little Shenyang” (a famous comedian) was sued for the copyright infringement;
(3) Video websites signed the self-regulation announcement on the copyright protection;
(4) A Bejing court ruled that Baidu.com has the duty to examine whether or not the keywords solde for advertisements is used in an infringing way.
(5) The “Shaolin Corporation” attempted to be a listed company; this may trigger a new wave of trademark disputes on “Shaolin” between the Shaolin Temple and the corporation.
(6) “Weichai” involved into a trademark dispute:
(7) Implementing Regulations of the Patent Law has been revised; the regulations on compulsory licenses are improved;
(8) China color TV patent pool is formally oporated;
(9) In the new Implementing Regulations of the Patent Law, the application abroad shall firstly be examined by SIPO with the secrecy concern.

Mar 19, 2010

English Abstracts of the Chinese Entries at BlawgDog (Dec. 21th - Jan. 24th)


This movie was made by a few Chinese WOW players. The story is well edited and all the episodes are captured from te WOW game. In this remix movie, the story of the dispute between two Chinese governmental departments on the licensing of the WOW and the the players’ rebellion of the electrotherapeutics to the “net-addiction” are narrated perfectly. The controversial electrotherapeutics was invented by a Chinese psychiatrist and supported by some parents. This is a representative work of Remix by grass-roots Chinese netizens. And it is released with CC-By-NC-SA. Watch it at here (I do wish someone may add English subtitles to it).


This post is contributed by Mr. Xuhui Chen, a new co-author of BLawgDog and a patent lawyer in China. The essay provides the passing rates of each year’s examination and other detailed analysis.


In this issue edited by Luckie Hong, the following news are included: (1) two guys are prosecuted for oporating unauthorized online-game sever of “Audition Dance Battle Online”; (2) A Beijing court ruled that funshion.com infringed copyright by providing downloading; (3) The Measures of payment of the textbooks’ royalties and the Measure of Protection of the Folklores are drafting; (4) Sany group, a major construction machinery producer wins a litigation on its trademark against the figure of “Benz”; (5) Tianjin high technology industry park promulgated a regulation encouraging the endevor of establishing well-known brands; (6) The series cases on the trademark “世界风SHIJIEFENG” was settled by the parties; (7) XGK, a company in Henan province, wins a lawsuit against State Intellectual Property Bureau for its decision of invalitation of the ZL8910393.8 patent; (8) powerdekor, a mojor producer of wood flooring in China, was involved in a patent law suit on its laminate flooring product; (9) Shanghai encourages the application of foreign patent with the maximum of 90,000 RMB financial aid.


This post is originally written in English. Click here.


This post is translated and extended in English, please click here for the English version.


This is a copy of the CNNIC’s notice requesting ISPs stopping to resolve the domain name which are not recorded in Ministry of Industry and Information Technology’s website registration/licensing system.


The Hong Kong government proposed a new version of the Proposals for Strengthening Copyright Protection in the Digital Environment. Xie Lin and Donnie co-authored this short post, which briefly introduced the content of the new proposals.


In this issue edited by Luckie Hong, the following news are included: (1) Google apologized openly for the first time in the copyright dispute between Google and Chinese authors; (2) A US software firm sues China for 2.2 billion dollars for using its copyrighted software in the Green Dam; (3) 50% increase of the copyright registration in China, 2009; (4) Hanwang, a Chinese company finally agree to sell the “iPhone” trademark to Apple; (5) Hengyuanxiang, a major Chinese woolen provider, was trapped in a trademark dispute on the “figure of a Sheep”; (6) the tademark of “Pierre Cardin” was finally selled to a Chinese company for 37 million euro; (7) A Fujian firm won IP lawsuit against FKK, a Japanese chemical giant; (8) A patent dispute about Mercury-free batteries falls into a vicious cycle; (9) RichtekTechnology, a Taiwan firm, sued AMD and other 5 US companies for patent infringement





In this issue edited by Luckie Hong, the following news are included: (1) Zhejiang Higher Court promulgated a guide for hearing the online copyright disputes; (2) A case on the popular book “Mawen’s War” was ruled in Nanjing; (3) The appealing case on the copyright of electronic navigation map in China (the first one in China) was ruled by Guangdong Higher Court; (4) the exposure draft of the new trademark law was submitted to the Legal Affairs Office of the State Council; (5) Google sent a lawyer’s letter to an individula who is raising an objection to the trademark of Google’s Chinese name Guge (谷歌); (6) Beijing No.1 Intermediate people's Court affirmed the validity of Judger Group’s (a Zhejiang-based garment enterprise) trademark of GEORGE and its figures; (7) The “Interpretation of the Supreme People’s Court on Several Issues concerning the Application of Law in the Trial of Patent Infringement Dispute Cases” was promulgated by the Supreme People’s Court; (8) the new IMPLEMENTING REGULATIONS OF THE PATENT LAW OF THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA was passed by the State Council on 30 Dec. 2009; (9) Unilin loses its acts against patent infringing products of Yekalon in Germany.


This post firstly briefed Donnie’s definition of “Public Domain” in the context of Chinese copyright law in his PhD dissertation at China University of Political Science, then introduced the idea of “public domain day” on each January 1st for at this day, many works will fall into the public domain every year. Lastly, the post discussed some famous/interesting Chinese works that will be fall into the public domain since Jan. 1st, 2009.


In 2009, 170 entries are published at BLawgDog (including 38 English ones). Among them, Donnie contributed about 120 posts, other co-authors contributed about 40 ones. Then this article highlighted a few interesting posts during the year.


I annouced a very quick survey to Chinese twitter users: whether they are living abroad or inside of the GFW. 88.46% responed they stay in China. For the question “if you live inside of the GFW, are you use twitter frequently”, 70.21% said yes they are. For the question “if you live outside of the GFW, after going back to China, will you use twitter frequently”, 52.94% said yes, but 23.53% said he/she will use twitter only when she/he is out of GFW. For the question “Ask 5 of your QQ buddies randomly, how many of them are using twitter.” 53.85% of the respondent said none of their 5 QQ buddies is using twitter, and only 1.92% said all of the 5 QQ buddies are using twitter too.


Writen and edited by Luckie Hong, a co-author of BlawgDog, reporting the latest news in IP Law. This issue includes: (1) the promulgation of China’s new Tort Law, in which the ISP’s liability was eventually coded in a questionable way; (2) China association of literature copyright said Google has illegally scanned over 80,000 Chinese books; (3) Taiyuan intermediate peoples court in Shanxi Province issued a warrant of seizure to a karaoke bar for copyright infringement, which is the first time on mainland China; (4) the National Trademark Review and Adjudication Board petitioned to the Supreme Court for the Beijing Court’s rulling of its decision on the “Daohuaxiang” trademark; (5) the dispute of the trademark of *ST Sanlian (SH.600898) will be ruled soon; (6) JNJ (Johnson & Johnson) lost the case on the “Caile” trademark in China; (7) A Newyork listed Shenzhen company was sued for a patent infringement, the damages claimed by the plaintiff was 175 million RMB; (8) Aigo and Netac settled the patent dispute on USB flash drivers; (9) Up to 7 Dec. 2009, the annual number of patent granting is 3007,636.


This essay reviews the usage of the term “use” in China’s current Copyright Law, and find its definition is hightly confusional, which leads the uncertainty “individul use” in the list of limitations to the copyright in Art. 22 of the Copyright Law.


This post questioned the legitimacy of issuing a warrant of seizure to Karaoke bars for the reason of copyright infringement, which was happened in Taiyuan, the capital city of Shanxi Province.

Feb 23, 2010

Wanna setup a Personal Website in China? BEING TAKEN A Portrait Please.


According to a new regulatory document (in Chinese) announced by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, a personal website owner have to BE TAKEN a portrait when she/he is about to “register” the basic information of their websites. The title of the new regulation is: The Scheme of Further Commitment of the Verification to the Websites’ Registration Information (Trial Implementing Regulations) [CN: 工业和信息化部关于进一步落实网站备案信息真实性核验工作方案(试行)]


“Registration” is a premising procedure for setting up a website in China.  The information required in the registration includes the domain name, the IP address of the hosting server, the brief introduction of the website’s intended content, the owner/operator’s true name and Chinese citizen ID number, address and other contacts. Although the regulation uses the term of “registration” but not “license”, it is actually a compulsive requirement for any websites. Without registration and the final permission from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, a website will be deemed as an “illegal” one and be shut down (China does have an Administrative License Law restricting the governmental organizations from establishing the administrative licenses arbitrarily, but this law is obviously being ignored, again).


Anyway, before the new regulation, the whole procedure of registration can, at least, be accomplished online, despite it normally needs weeks, or even more than a month in some cases, to get the license.


Now you have to schedule a travel for such registration in accordance with the new regulation. It requires the owners of the personal websites providing their own portrait in the form of registration. To avoid the false portrait, the website owners must present by person with their personal identificatoin documents (like resident ID card, or passport for foreigners), and BEING TAKEN PORTRAIT in the photographic studio (with unified equipped backdrop providing by the MiiT) located at the IDC’s office.


Here is the new procedure of the website registration for individuals:


Webmasters log on the registration system of the MIIT, and input the information

--> The IDCs or the ISPs (hosting service provider) verify the information 

--> If the informaiton is true (deemed by the ISPs)

--> the ISP send the notice of spot verification

--> Webmaster go to the verification center with ID documents

--> If the informaiton is true (deemed by the IDCs)

--> The ISPs or IDCs input the information and upload the portrait to the system

--> the provincial communication administration examine the registration information

--> If the informaiton is true (deemed by the administration)

--> the registration information will be submitted to the MiiT's system finally

--> the Webmasters will get the permission of establishing the website.


Besides this new procedure, the regulation requires IDCs draw a plan on re-examination of the existing websites (means the websites has been registered beforehand) … it does not said explicitly that the owners of the existing websites also need to BE TAKEN portraits at the IDC’s studio, but leaves such possibility in the wordings.


My comments … speechless, speechless, and …  speechless. It seems more and more difficult to write legal blog posts refrained from grumbling.


BTW, another news. China’s President Jintao Hu was found established a micro-blog at People’s Daily’s twitter-like service (t.people.com.cn) yesterday.  And that micro-blog was symboled with a “verified real person” badge, and a line of bio stating his current position as the Party Chief and the President of China.


Then, in a dozen of hours, that zero-posted micro-blog got 20,000 followers.  Then the server was denied visiting just like being DDOSed. Then the service provider closed “Hu’s” microblog, and confessed that it does not established by President Hu. It is actually an automatically created page for the verified users in the BBS service of the People’s Daily. Hu has (perhaps been) registered an ID with his real name when he showed up for his first online chatting with netizens in 2008.


I wrote in a Chinese post said this “accident” proves, again, that, even if we forget the freedom of expression but aiming at locating the wrong-doers, the real-name registration system will be useless in the circumstance of the rapid developing technology and the constantly changing personal situation nowadays. On the contrary, the case that even our President would BE ESTABLISHED a blog without his consent demonstrates clearly what we need to focus on is not the real-name registration law, but the law of personal data protection, no matter it is associated with a real name or a false one.  The law of real-name registration system is based on the presumption of mistrust, and will increase such mistrust among the stakeholders. The law of personal data protection is based on the presumption of trust, and will decrease the misturst eventually.

President Hu’s “verified real-name” micro-blog (screenshot, the page no longer exist).

Jan 30, 2010

Who Survived the Cinternet - Case Studies to Chinese Websites

Thanks for Professor Urs Gasser's invitation. I am allowed to sit in his course of "Online Law and Business in a Globalized Economy" at Harvard Law School, and get an opportunity to present some understanding to Chinese websites. Because of the limited time slot, I just partly introduced the slides in the class. Therefore, here is a more comprehensive version for those who are interested in.



Hillary Clinton said that "We stand for a single Internet where all of humanity has equal access to knowledge and ideas." I love this vision, but it is not a truth of the Internet. 幻灯片2

It is untrue not only because the dicky openness of a specific network may be destroyed abruptly (The Internet access in Xinjiang, a northwest region in China three times bigger than Califonia, was simply cut out over 6 months after the mob riot and bloody fight between nationalities), but also because the essence of the Internet: It is inter-net, the Network of Networks. It can be described as an information transmission/communication network composed of many autonomous systems. ARPANET, MILNET, Cyclades (France) and NPL (UK) formed the first generation of the Internet (see the video). More autonomous systems then have been setup and joined the Internet - They joined the Internet by accepting the TCP/IP and other protocols. But this does not mean that they have the same policy on the authority to access and the attitude to the network security.

Similiarly, I name the concept of "Cinternet" to the autonomous network in China.  It could be isolated from the other parts of the Internet infrastructurally, linguistically, politically and even culturally. Recently, the trend of such isolation seems jumped from the level of technological blocking to the level of institutional denying. Contrast to Hillary's vision, this seems to be an existence, no matter "bad" or "good". It is there.

A Video on the History of the Internet [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9hIQjrMHTv4 ]:


Google announced that it will not go on filtering the results of web search because it's E-mail service is attacked. The logic is not that straight forward, but it works at least on emphasizing the not evil slogan. In my view, it is not only the said attacking, but also the anxiety of the culture shock lead Google's activities. Google is still using its American imagination: fight or obedient, agree or disagree.


Let's back to the business. Google's anxiety in China (as well as Yahoo!'s leaving) may be reasoned by the wrongful understanding to Chinese netizens' demands and surfing usage, which reflect the Chinese culture and social structure.

Let's start from a comparision between Baidu.com and Google.com:

Besides the advantage of focusing on the Chinese search engine, Baidu has the totally differenct philosophy from Google. Baidu runs pay for placement service (if you pay for some keywords, your link will be among the first few items of the search result of those keywords, with an "Ads" symbol), while google earns money mainly from Adsense (An Ads system automatically match the page). Baidu provides PostBar and MP3 dowloading as its killer applications, whereas Google develops its applications around the E-mail service (including Gtalk and Wave), which is the core of the US netizens' online life.


Google can hire people who understand Chinese culture. But with the strong value oriented mission setting atomosphere, Google's headquater obviously often conflicted with its Chinese management team. The result is: Chinese Google (Google.cn) is separated from Google's world, not because of the gov's censorship, but because of the misunderstanding on what is a good, attractive and sustainable web service for Chinese customers.


I wish the following websites may be helpful for understanding the unique enviroment of "Cinternet". The first one is Tianya.cn. Tianya is the most popular and most crowded online forum in China. It's traffic is ranked No. 90 in the world (Alexa). Click here for more.


Tianya's virtual community has a few unique features contributing to its flourish and survival: 幻灯片8

(1)  It has a huge group of volunteer forum-board masters who are in charge of deleting/hiding the defamatory, dissenting and - most specially - inappropriate posts. The board masters are mostly the famous IDs (in many cases most of users don't know who the people is in real world), they are famous and reliable only because of their reputation established in Tianya.

(2) The un-deletable and un-editable mechanism. No one can delete/edit his/her own posts at the forum boards, even a board master can only manage the posts at his/her board - as a user in other boards, he can do nothing but posting new threads as a normal user. 

(3) If users think a board master is not appropriate, they may leave the complaint at the manage board - and if those complaints are reasonable, the higher webmaster may decide to suspend the board master's authority - just like the mechanism of "petition" in China's real life.

(4) Look at that strucutre map again. It's "separation of the power" looks very like the actual life in China.


Now this is QQ.com. QQ.com is ranked the world 11th website on the matter of traffics (remember, the traffic among the QQ clients are not counted in). Contrary to Google's matrix based on search engine and E-mail, QQ's world is based on Instant Message. It is a close system, not providing open API.


Taobao is not a Chinese Ebay. On the contrary, Ebay's Chinese branch has been defeated by Taobao. See the above comparision. Alipay, Taobao's payment tool, archieved over 1.2 billion RMB (171 million USD) of the value of transactions per day on Dec 7th 2009, among its over 200 million users.


Named after a spice used in Szechuan cooking, Douban allows Chinese consumers to share, tag and browse through one another's collection of books, music, and movies.


The contents in Douban are mostly user generated. However Douban is distinct from Youtube: only comments to the items (books, movies and music albums) are posted on the website. In each item's page, Douban provides the links to the online bookstores (including Amzon's Chinese site). The prices are easily compared in an item's page.

Douban's biggest distinction from the SNS (like facebook) is: it is not a real-name network. Therefore, it is mainly not for social  and personal networking, but for public expression. Besides the review tab in each item's pages, users can also establish groups and invite others join. There are thousands of groups and thousands of entries are posted every day. Because most users are in anonymous, discussions are very interest-oriented and open-hearted.

If there were no censorship, Douban might be a good platform to form a classic "public sphere". However, douban enforces a very strict self-censorship policy. Any thread that may "threat the operation of douban in China" will be hidden (only the author can read). The groups include too much "in-harmonious" topics will be closed by douban's staff - or be hidden and only the members of the group may read those threads. It is obvious that Douban's operator does not want this websited be involved into any political debate.


The above is a conclusion to the features of successful websites in China. Practcially speaking, these might be useful for those who wish to invest their money and energy into the Internet industry in China.

Back again to the overall abstract discussion, the world might be flatted by emergence of the Internet, but when more and more parts of this convergence of pink, blue, black or bloody world involve themselves into the Internet, the basic feature of the inter-net as a network of various autonomous systems may be at least continue to be a existence, if not a growing trend, in the new decade. And, with all due desire to the open and equal access to the Internet, I still doubt that the vision of a "single" Internet that believe people must love facebook, twitter and Google wave could be a realist approach to archive that aim.


iPad is coming ... Even in the same culture and society, Apple's world can be so distinct from the PC's world (they both connected into the Internet). Imaging how big distinction of the Cinternet's could be.

Jan 20, 2010

Code is law, but the Real Law may be Coded into the Virtual Community

Following the last post on the 10 websites that lead you understanding Cinternet, I'd like to share more specific observations to two of them. One is Douban.com , a "2.0" site but unique from other web 2.0 sites in English web sphere, and the other is Tianya.cn, a huge BBS that is also different from the western style of discussion groups. From them, one may find the law (I mean the living law, not definitely the legislations) has changed the code. 


1. Douban.com


Douban.com is a unique website that I can not find the counterpart in the English web sphere. It has launched a English site but now suspended.


Named after a spice used in Szechuan cooking, Douban allows Chinese consumers to share, tag and browse through one another's collection of books, music, and movies. Douban has very good infrastructure which provide the aggregation of the users every act (tag a book after read it or just "want to read", write a review, rank a movie ... all the user's acts can be aggregated and published to his/her friends' first page. and each act can be set hidden from the public). According to a user's acts, douban "guesses" the new books, movies and musics for the user, and recommend the user to other users. Douban released a "Douban 9" channel, which is a social aggregator that the users may use it as an RSS reader, but more openly to the others. Recently, douban launched a "Douban Listen" (douban.fm) channel, which is similiar to Pandora.com.


The contents in Douban are mostly user generated. However Douban is distinct from Youtube: only comments to the items (books, movies and music albums) are posted on the website. In each item's page, Douban provides the links to the online bookstores (including Amzon's Chinese site). The prices are easily compared in an item's page.


Douban's biggest distinction from the SNS (like facebook) is: it is not a real-name network. Therefore, it is mainly not for social  and personal networking, but for public expression. Besides the review tab in each item's pages (which are now becoming the most useful resource for Chinese young people's when they are about to watch a movie or buy a book), users can also establish groups and invite others join. There are thousands of groups and thousands of entries are posted every day. Because the groups are established by the users, one may see many interesting ones. Take the keyword of "man" as an example, there are "man-should-cook" group, "we-love-very-old-man" group, "not-answering-phone-man-should-die" group and more than 370 other ones. Because most users are in anonymous, discussions are very interest-oriented and open.


If there were no censorship, Douban might be a good platform to form a classic "public sphere". However, douban enforces a very strict self-censorship policy. Any thread that may "threat the operation of douban in China" will be hidden (only the author can read). The groups include too much "in-harmonious" topics will be closed by douban's staff - or be hidden and only the members of the group may read those threads. It is obvious that Douban's operator does not want this websited be involved into any political debate. 


2. Tianya.cn


Tianya (means skyline) is the most popular and most crowded online forum in China. And as for the number of the threads and the accounts, maybe in the world. It's traffic is ranked No. 90 in the world (Alexa). It is the symbol of the prosperous BBS culture in China


Two mechanisms keep Tianya being survival and flourishing:


One is that it has a huge group of volunteer forum-board masters who are in charge of deleting/hiding the defamatory, dissenting and - most specially - inappropriate posts (means the threads should not be posted in specific forum board, like an essay on travel is posted to a forum boad on the gourmandism). Besides, the board masters also have the right to deny some ID's posting, the right to make a post highlighted, etc. The board masters are mostly the famous IDs (in many cases most of users don't know who the people is in real world), they are famous and reliable only because of their reputation established in Tianya.


The other is the un-deletable and un-editable mechanism. No one can delete/edit his/her own posts at the forum boards, even a board master can only manage the posts at his/her board - as a user in other boards, he can do nothing but posting new threads as a normal user if users think a board master is not appropriate, they may leave the complaint at the manage board - and if those complaints are reasonable, the higher webmaster may decide to suspend the board master's authority - just like the mechanism of "petition" in China's real life.


In Tianya, no one can establish a separate forum/group. All the forums are set by the general webmaster. Users may apply for establishing a new board by posting threads to the "Manage board", but only the website can make a new board. The ecology of Tianya can be described a pyramid one.


Short conclusion:

Neutrally speaking, the different law in various jurisdiction diversified the digital code, as well as the Internet. When a society is digitized, the Internet is also formulized by the law in such society. "Cinternet" is not only a concept of physical "walled part" of the Internet", but may be another "sphere" of the Internet, which isolated from other spheres mentally, systematically, and even institutionally - It's not absolutely a bad thing, or a good one. It may be just an existence.

Jan 15, 2010

Ten Websites Lead You Understanding the Features of Cinternet

As Google's abrupt leaving from China, the splitting of the Internet seems faster and faster. I think the following ten websites can lead observers understanding the Chinese Internet. All of them survived China's censorship, and are developing rapidly. Compare to the websites that has been blocked (that I listed on Wednesday here), they are the real main stream for the over 400 million Chinese netizens.

First of all, They are all in Chinese, and seldom provide multi-language service. This might be the obstacle for the English speaking researchers, but it can also be regarded as the first typical character of Chinese website - not because of the censorship, but because of the population. The formation of a separate "Sub-internet" needs a big enough population.

There are many great blogs and websites reporting Chinese Internet (Cinternet hereinafter), such as Danwei, Shanghainist, Gokunming, etc. But if one wants to understand the trend of Cinternet, the following websites, as well as a little Chinese, plus some translation tools are necessary.

In my view, when we are talking about the Cinternet, the targets should be the "plain" websites, not those pioneer ones. Each of the following websites is crowded with millions of users, and all of them survived the censorship and/or self-censorship. The core/column of the Cinternet should be based on them but not those obviously unsurvivable ones. For example, a research to Chinese bloggers should focus on not only the independent or even blocked bloggers, but also the mainstream in those highly controlled blog services.

1. http://www.QQ.com (Alexa China 2; world 11; on Jan 15th 2010, the same below)
The top website in China according to Alexa in Jan. 2010. And it has almost all kinds of web application including blog (blog.qq.com), game (qqgame.qq.com), news, sns (qzone.qq.com), search engine (soso.com), micro-blog, C2C (www.paipai.com), and most importantly, Instant Message (im.QQ.com). Almost each Chinese netizen has a QQ number. the number of the accounts has exceeded 900 million in 2007, and the active users were over 400 millions in 2008. Then they only publish the number of  concurrent online users - this number exceeds 80 millions on Oct. 10th 2009, and exceeded 90 millions two months later.
This is a diagram of the concurrent online users of QQ on 5 December 2009. The communication among them are not cacluated by the Alexa.

2. http://Baidu.com (Alexa China 1; world 8)
Baidu is a search engine service provider. Just like Google, it provides many other services like blog (hi.baidu.com). However, the core of baidu is still the web search. It enforces strict artificial intervention to the search result. However, most of Chinese users still take baidu as their first choice. One of the reasons is: Chinese users are more familiar to Baidu's way of locating Chinese knowledge.

3. http://www.KaiXin001.com/ (Alexa China: 9; world: 56)
A unique SNS different from facebook style, grow rapidly in last two years. 60 Million users up to December 2009 (15 million active users per day). The aim of 2010 is over 100 million. A competitor of KaiXin001 is RenRen.com (Alexa China: 14; world 93). RenRen is the ealiest SNS in China, and it duplicated Facebook's mode. However, that approach can not compete kaixin001 on the matters of authenticity and the user stickiness.

4. http://DouBan.com  (Alexa China: 24; world: 178)
The unique website that I cannot find the similiar website in English web sphere. It launched an English version but suspended. Some reported that its accounts exceeded 30 million by the end of Dec. 2009 (the number of account by Sept. 2009 was just 10 million). The founder of this website denied it is a SNS. Douban is the most successful Chinese Web 2.0 website. It is a very typical UGC website that the users generate almost all contents in the website. Without the interfere of the government, douban may be one of the promising websites in the ahead 5 years.

5. http://taobao.com (Alexa China: 5; world: 24)
The famous C2C or B2C E-commerce website, together with alipay.com (the online payment leader in China - Alexa China: 32; world: 267) and alibaba (B2B website - Alexa China: 25; world: 109), consist the giant of the E-commerce in China.

6. http://www.tianya.cn (Alexa China: 13; world: 89)
The most crowded Chinese BBS community in the world. With the traditional form of web forum, this website focuses and enlarge hottest news and topics every day. For those focused threads, it is very easy to have more than 100 thousands replies in one day.

7. http://Xunlei.com (Alexa China: 21; world: 129)
Based on its downloading software (Xunlei), Xunlei become the king of the dowloading in China. It declares only providing copyright-free resources, while since Xunlei software is a searchable, unified format "P2SP" software, one may find many copyright-doubtable resources on it. However, forget the copyright, Xunlei is very efficient and can be one of the successful practicers of the "cloud" concept.

8. http://blog.sina.com.cn (Alexa China:4, world:16, as for sina.com.cn)
Sina has been among the top ten Chinese websites for a decade. It is the traditional portal style. Checking the Internet archive of Sina ten years ago here, you will find that the style of the first page of sina had not changed so much. It is a typical obedient private owned website that follows the orders of the regime. As for the future of the Cinternet, observers are suggested to watch sina's blog channel and the micro-blog channel (t.sina.com.cn).

9. http://youdao.com (Alexa China:42, world:282)
Youdao is the search engine developed by Netease (163.com - Alexa China:7, world:27). It seems paid more attention to the web 2.0 applications and the relevant page arrangement. It has the personalized first page like iGoogle. Netease has other products like 126.com E-mail service (Alexa China:27, world:195). As an old website rise together with sina and sohu.com (Alexa China:8, world:43), Netease seems more willing to embrace the web 2.0. It is the only one opens the free API for the 3rd developers among the four biggest portal sites (QQ, sina, sohu and 163) in China.

10. http://www.hao123.com (Alexa China:23, world:169)
Hao123 is a simple static 1.0 style html page aggregated links of many websites. For geeks, it is stupid and like an antique, but it always stands at the top 30 websites of China. It is the home page of millions of browsers. It was acquired by Baidu in 2006. Baidu keeps it on the original way, even doesn't make it more customizable.

These websites including the 2.0 oriented sites (douban, youdao) and very static web 1.0 homepage (hao123). While in my view, the main stream of the Cinternet is unique and can not be categorized with Web 1.0/2.0 . Here are the features that I roughly summarized at the current stage.

(1) Accepting the 2.0 ideas, but making the user generated contents controllable. The latest example is t.sina.com.cn, it is launched in October and now become the top one among the micro-blog (as the matter of users' number) services.

(2) Complying with Chinese culture - I am not saying censorship/dictatorship, but the culture. A typical example can be the comparision between reren.com and kaixin001.com.

(3) One website provides integrated services, but very few websites provide open API.

(4) IM driven. Other than the E-mail driven culture in English cyberspace, the Cinternet is and will still be an IM driven culture. People contact with QQ numbers everywhere. Besides QQ, Taobao has its IM too, and has made being the hub of all the Taobao's e-commerce applications; sina, baidu, netease and China-Mobile all provide their IM services, but non of them are inter-communicable.

This is just a simple illustration. There must be more features. Here I am actually discussing the appropriate approach to stuy the Chinese web sphere.

The Story of a Chain Resturant

There is a big chain restaurant company who named itself Eatool. Based in Amilina (a country allowing people eat almost everything except small chicken), Eatool provides delicious meats, including pork, beef and adult chicken. At the same time, it also sells dishware and other stuffs in each of its restaurants.
Few years ago, Eatool opened a new restaurant in Cinet, a country where the king forbid selling pork, as well as chicken.
Personally, Eatool's boss loves pork, but he knows that selling pork in their Cinet restaurant means shut down the business including the dishware. So they hired Cinet people run the restaurant in Cinet, and restricted themselves from selling pork. At the same time, Eatool sells dishware to Cinetizens.
In Amilina, many gourmets criticized Eatool for years: "Hey, pork is delicious. You should provide pork in Cinet. People in Cinet need pork!"
In the mean time, some people in Cinet also claimed: "Hey, we love pork. Why Eatool, the leader of the world restaurants, compromise to the evil regulation of forbidding pork?"
More profoundly, some thinkers either in Cinet or in Amilina said: "It's not the matter of pork; it's the matter of choice. No government should restrict the choice of eating. It’s a natural right to eat anything that a human being wants to!"
The prince of the Cinet asked his father, "Dad, they are criticizing us not allowing pork..."
"Amilina forbid eating the small chicken. Tell me, why?" The King did not answer the question but asked his son.
"Small chicken should be protected because they are young."
"Yes, but attention, it's a moral reason, not a logic one. Eating small chicken is sick and lousy, so they prohibited it. They need a moral legitimacy for ruling the country. We need too. So we prohibit chicken. The different is just the level of moral standards."
"Oh, OK, Dad. But ... how do we distinguish youth chicken and adult chicken?"
"Moral reasons are mostly not steady, and that uncertainty always good for us. You will know that."
"Then we prohibit the pork for the moral reason too? "
"You are too young, sometimes naive, my son!" Said the king, "It's not the matter of choice; it’s the matter of interests. Remember: we are good at cooking beef, not pork. If we approve the pork before prepared, you may not be the next king of Cinet, my dear son! If you want to eat pork, just go Amilina, silently. But back to Cinet, we still cannot approve it. You understood?"
"So we prohibit chicken for the moral reason, but prohibit pork for the interests?"
"Not that simple. People used to reasoning their interests with moral argument. Not only us. You will see it. Anyway, pay attention to the guys who bought Eatool's dishware specific for cooking the pork."
The next day, Eatool was criticized in Cinet. The state central TV station blames Eatool providing the chicken, and saying chicken endangered the youth’s health. Under the heavy pressure, Eatool revised its menu, deleted all dishes made by chicken.  
A month later, Eatool suddenly sticked a notice at its shop window:
"we decide to sell the pork in Cinet now! We will discuss this with the king of Cinet. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Eatool at Cinet. But we have decided to do that."
This is a big news. Journalists throng to the office of Eatool's headquarter.
- "Why do you sell the pork now?"
"Because someone tried to break our dishware!" The CEO of Eatool said with angry.
- "who?"
"Someone, not sure. They tried to break our dishware! Not only our products, but also many other Amilinan companies’. The attackers are organized!"
- "Government based?"
"Not sure, but the attacks are aiming at the dishware that we made for the clients who argue for the freedom of eating, either in Amilina or in Cinet!”
- "Em … what’s the relationship between dishware and pork?”
"Well, they attack the dishware, its violation of human right! We have principle."
- "Sir, I mean, why didn’t you provide pork before, but now change the mind? Can the pork protect the dishware from attacking?"
"Uh … I guess so … attackers may be busy in ~~ eating pork … em … yes, human rights! They are both the matter of human rights, the matter of freedom of Choice."
- "When you are saying the dishware, what freedom of choice is about to?"
"Uh… uh…, security! The security of dishware! Without security of dishware, how can we eat pork, beef and even chicken? So as I said, the dishware is highly relevant to the pork. We decide to sell pork because they break our dishware!"
Reading Eatool's notice, a client of Eatool's Cinet shop cried, "Watch it! It's the principle! The moral of a company! They decided to provide pork! I love Eatool! I will cross the wall and visit Eatool even it's Cinet restaurant closed! I will not eat in the King's restaurant, even beef!"
"How did you get the pork before?" Her mama asked, washing the dishware bought from Eatool.
"Cross the wall and visit Eatool's restaurant in Amilina."
"So ... there is no difference ... By the way, where did you buy and repair this dishware?"
"Eatool's shop in Cinet of course! They don't prohibit selling dishware! How dare the King prohibit that!"
"OK, after Eatool closes its restaurant in our country. Where can we repair this dishware?"
"Em... cross the wall. It's all because of the King! I hate the King!"
"Fine, I am old and poor. I cannot afford such long journey for either pork or beef in Eatool's restaurant in Amilina. Before you fight the King for the Eatool, can you tell Eatool not to change its principle next time? That's just like the king."
"No mama, Eatool has principle; it was forced not selling pork!"
"Wash your dishware, dear. Eatool sold you it in Cinet. By the way, I suggest you marry the prince, which makes you eating the pork."
"NO! I don't like the prince!"
"OK, OK. Anyway, if you don't marry the prince nor Eatool, then fight for yourself, for me, for those who cannot afford having diner in Eatool's restaurant."

Jan 13, 2010

Google's Angry, Sacrifice and the Accelerated Splitting Internet

From Google.cn, to G.cn, to Chinese name Guge, this Internet giant tried to fit its size and pose to the bottle of censorship, while it still can not afford the conflict of the values. In 2009, it has been blocked from access, humiliated for spreading porn and accused for copyright infringement. Finally, Google expressed its value in a direct, as well as not Chinese, way.

When I heard this news yesterday, the first thing what I did was to save the page of Google.cn. It may be dead soon.


Following a tweet, people gathered and present flowers to Google Beijing office (click here for more, and the latest report is: along with flowers and candles, a book 1984 by George Orwell joined the gifts for sacrifice):

Twitter  is blocked in China, but yesterday the Chinese twitters made tag #GoogleCN climbed to the top ten of twitter's keywords. It is a bit touching, and a bit hopeful - A profitable, foreign company get this means filtering and block still not make Chinese people (at least some of them) losing their eyesight and judgment to what is good and what is bad. 

However, they are losing, and may lose faster, along with the Cinternet's separation from the Internet. Here are the top 20 websites according to Alexa:
  1. Google.com: China Gov will not be possible to tolerate such challenge.
  2. Facebook.com: blocked.
  3. Youtube.com: blocked;
  4. Yahoo.com: it's Chinese website yahoo.cn has been acquired by Alibaba, a Chinese company;
  5. Windows Live, still can be accessed in China, but some blogs are blocked.
  6. Wikipedia: blocked.
  7. Blogger.com: blocked several times.
  8. Baidu.com,百度
  9. MSN.com: still can be accessed from China.
  10. Yahoo.jp: still can be accessed from China
  11. QQ.com: China's top IM provider and the top news website now.
  12. Google.co.in: Google India, it will be blocked because Google's search engine is uniformed.
  13. Twitter: blocked.
  14. Myspace: blocked sometime;
  15. Google.cn: It will die soon if Google keeps its promise.
  16. sina.com.cn,新浪
  17. Google.de: will also be blocked soon.
  18. Amazon.com: Some of it's S3 Servers in America is blocked; it's Chinese version still works.
  19. Wordpress.com: has been blocked for a long time.
  20. Microsoft.com: it is alive.
More blocked website not in the top 20 include but not limit to discuss.com.hk (the largest BBS in Hong Kong), www.mingpaonews.com (the most reliable newspaper in Hong Kong), xanga.com, mitbbs.com (the biggest Chinese forum out of China), flickr.com, etc. Yes,  flickr. So one may know why yahoo sold its Chinese site. The fact is: for each new application that can not be controlled by the Chinese gov, if the operator does not restrict itself, it will be blocked. This is surely not an environment that Google can endure.

From technological block to institutional restriction, the trend of splitting the Internet seems faster than what we had imagine. As I had mentioned in last week's Berkman fellows hour, the tragic would not be the splitting of the Chinese Internet from the English Internet, but the splitting of the Internet content (no matter what language) among different people - resourceful (technically, economically or politically) people can access all the data, others can access less and less. Controllers may control others and society may be more and more like the beehive.

BTW, two jokes that are RTed among Chinese twitters:
  • 1990s baby: I find a foreign website "Google" out of GFW, just like Baidu! 00s: what's GFW? 10s: what's website? 20s: what's foreign? 
  • (because baidu was just hacked one day before by some Iran hackers) From depress to delight, will LYH (Baidu.com's boss) be crazy? No, he is busying on backup of his emails in Gmail.