Friday, May 25, 2007

Intellectual Property Piracy in China

I shall accuse those who copy my designs in the courts wherever they are and plead that justice be done. Those who reprint my books in the belief that their wealth and power will protect them are living off my labor, and that is a situation I cannot tolerate. I swear to fight them to the death, and hereby give notice to the authorities that this book marks a new policy on my part.
In brief, Heaven and Earth endowed every human being with a mind and it is up to each one of us to develop his own intelligence. I have done nothing to stultify their minds or prevent them from developing their intelligence. What right do they have to take away my livelihood and prevent me from living off my own labor?

This was written by Li Yu 李漁, author of the famous erotic Chinese novel The Carnal Prayer Mat, in the mid 17th century. Some things never change.

(Adapted from Patrick Hanan's translation in The Invention of Li Yu.)

1 comment:

Imre said...

I was always under the impression that this whole copyright issue was much newer and that in the Ming this would not have been an issue. At least that's what I remember reading about Western book culture in books like Mary Carruthers's The Book of Memory: A Study of Memory in Medieval Culture.

But it is really interesting to see how a celebrity writer in China is affected by unauthorized copying of his work.