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Journal of Science and Technology Policy in China





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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore the Chinese and American efforts in keeping the balance of innovation and copyright protection, with an emphasis on China’s strategies under Western, especially American pressure. The research findings are expected to enhance mutual efforts from the two countries to protect copyright and boost innovation and facilitate genuine communication between both sides in their decade-long intellectual property right (IPR) disputes.

Design/methodology/approach – For data collection, this study adopted in-depth interviews of 45 participants who were either copyright holders as publishers and authors, or ordinary consumers in China. Under the theoretical guidance of strategies and tactics, thematic analysis was used to reveal the emerging themes in the transcripts concerning Chinese cultural perceptions of copyright in general and the relationship between innovation incentives and copyright protection in particular.

Findings – First, both countries used strategies for the calculation and manipulation of power in the enactment and implementation of their copyright laws. Second, in order to defend their own interests and obtain national advantages, both countries made full use of various tactics. It is promising for the large developing countries like China to implement and enforce their copyright law and other IPR regulations more effectively under global bargaining and collaborating.

Originality/value – Since little research has been done on the hidden agenda in the USA-China copyright disputes, this paper attempts to fill this void by exploring the genuine intentions of both the USA and China in the enactment and implementation of their respective copyright laws and the strategies taken for their communication with the relevant parties at different stages of their own IPR development.


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