Sunday, May 30, 2010

China's Plagiarism Problem; Forbes, 5/26/10

Peter Friedman, Forbes; China's Plagiarism Problem:

"Plagiarism and the lack of academic integrity it engenders are intricately connected to the larger debate about intellectual property rights (IPR) in China and the government's promoted idea of a harmonious society to support stability. Western countries, either unilaterally or through the WTO, continually threaten to impose sanctions against China for piracy of products ranging from movies and computer software to semiconductors. IPR are hard to enforce from without, and only gain traction when there is an indigenous respect for such rights.

Running counter to IPR enforcement is the idea of community, which is very strong in China. Harmony is a historically important value in Chinese society, vigorously marketed by the Communist government to encourage stability. A strong sense of community promotes both stability and harmony, but subsumes the individual. The powerful force of community that envelopes the individual begets the idea that all parts of the community can be used by the members of that community any way that they see fit, including ideas. In this paradigm it would be absurd for an individual to lay claim to an idea and receive credit from other individuals for that idea when the community is supposed to be paramount to the individual. IPR cut across the idea of community and the ownership of ideas because they create a competitive marketplace of individual ideas, which could ultimately undermine the stability and harmony of the community.

This explanation may seem abstract, but taking this explanation and applying it to a university classroom illuminates why plagiarism will remain a serious problem for China."

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