The Politics of Piracy: Intellectual Property in Contemporary China

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China is by far the world's leading producer of pirated goods—from films and books to clothing, from consumer electronics to aircraft parts. As China becomes a full participant in the international economy, its inability to enforce intellectual property rights is coming under escalating international scrutiny. What is the impact, Andrew C. Mertha asks, of external pressure on China's enforcement of intellectual property? The conventional wisdom sees a simple correlation between greater pressure and better domestic compliance with international norms and declared national policy. Mertha's research tells a different story: external pressure may lead to formal agreements in Beijing, resulting in new laws and official regulations, but it is China's complex network of bureaucracies that decides actual policy and enforcement. The structure of the administrative apparatus that is supposed to protect intellectual property rights makes it possible to track variation in the effects of external pressure for different kinds of intellectual property.Mertha shows that while the sustained pressure of state-to-state negotiations has shaped China's patent and copyright laws, it has had little direct impact on the enforcement of those laws. By contrast, sustained pressure from inside China, on the part of foreign trademark-owners and private investigation companies in their employ, provides a far greater rate of trademark enforcement and spurs action from anti-counterfeiting agencies.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Mertha analyzes the impact of external political pressure on the enforcement of intellectual property rights in China. . . . A useful volume for anyone interested in the actual workings of the governmental bureaucracy in China, as well as for those who want to gain insights into the practical aspects of IPR enforcement. Highly recommended."—Choice, April 2006

"You should buy—not steal or copy—The Politics of Piracy. It is an impressive and timely book that will help anyone trying to understand today's (or tomorrow's) battles between the United States and China regarding intellectual property. In it, Andrew C. Mertha draws on years of experience in China and a rich academic background to produce a study that I know scholars, businesspeople, and policymakers will find valuable with regard to both intellectual property and China's engagement of global norms in general."—William P. Alford, Harvard University, author of To Steal a Book is an Elegant Offense: Intellectual Property in Chinese Civilization

"The Politics of Piracy is a great read and should prove to be the definitive, durable account of the politics of intellectual property in China. Andrew C. Mertha's research regarding patent, copyright, and trademark policymaking, implementation, and enforcement is the work of a highly skilled and motivated specialist in the structure and process of Chinese politics. We learn that Deng's science and technology policymakers debated patent policy from the earliest days of the reform movement, that cultural and propaganda issues trump copyright policy, and that U.S. trademark owners have figured out how to get the locals to take action against counterfeiters. Mertha's anecdotes illuminate even as they entertain."—Michael P. Ryan, Georgetown University, author of Knowledge Diplomacy: Global Competition and the Politics of Intellectual Property

"This very well-written book sets out a clear argument and follows it through the maze of China's bureaucracy, arriving finally at persuasive conclusions. I have never read such a vivid description of how Chinese bureaucracies connect to each other, from the center to the local level. Andrew C. Mertha provides an extremely lucid explanation of why some types of intellectual property rights are relatively well enforced and others are not."—Joseph Fewsmith III, Professor and Director of the East Asia Interdisciplinary Studies Program, Boston University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801473852
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 262
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Andrew C. Mertha is Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Studies and the Earle H. and Suzanne S. Harbison Faculty Fellow at Washington University in St. Louis. He lived in China for almost seven years, four of them as a production manager for a U.S. import/export company.
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