Posted by: Bruce Einhorn on July 11, 2007
You know the piracy situation is bad in China if even the Confucius Institute is implicated in unauthorized copying. Josh Gartner, a 27-year-old from Brooklyn who runs ChinaExpat, a Beijing-based website for foreigners, alleges that the Institute – a non-profit in the Chinese capital dedicated to promoting the study of the Chinese language worldwide – has lifted dozens of his site’s articles without permission. Gartner has written about this on his blog.
“The Confucius Institute Online is stealing China Expat’s content. That’s right, the Beijing-based institute with millions of dollars of resouces has been taking articles from ChinaExpat.com, an upstart website with no revenue dedicated to promoting Chinese culture and tourism. They have been stealing original writing in its entirety and passing it off as their own original content. In total more than four dozen (!) of our articles appear on their site and I could only find one time that they gave us credit.”
I rang Gartner today and asked him why he is making a big deal of this. Theft like this is pretty common in China. I’ve had stories stolen and I bet lots of other journalists have too. What’s happened to China Expat is on a different scale, says Gartner, who was taken aback by the “very significant” extent of the alleged theft. “All the content of the entire site is taken and put up as their own,” he says. And besides, it’s an institute named after Confucius! “You are not usually surprised when you see it from small organizations,” says Gartner. “But the Confucius Institute, you would expect more oversight.”
I also called the Confucius Institute for a comment and spoke with a Miss Bai. (When I asked for her full name, she told me “that’s not important.”) What does the Institute say about Gartner’s allegations? “We don’t know if it’s true or not. We need time to look into this.”
BusinessWeek’s team of Asia reporters brings you the latest insights on business, politics, technology and culture from some of the world’s biggest and fastest-growing economies. Eye on Asia’s bloggers include Asia regional editor Bruce Einhorn, Tokyo reporter Ian Rowley, Korea bureau chief Moon Ihlwan, Asia News Editor and China Bureau Chief. Dexter Roberts, and Hong Kong-based Asia correspondent Frederik Balfour.