Cultural Perplexity in Intellectual Property: Is Stealing a Book an Elegant Offense?

48 Pages Posted: 3 Oct 2010

See all articles by Wei Shi

Wei Shi

Bangor University Law School

Date Written: September 30, 2010


This article considers the enforcement insufficiency via a discussion of the evolving cultural phenomena associated with the fundamental systemic weakness of China's institutional problems. It argues that current mainstream legal epistemology incorrectly links China's enforcement problem to Confucian values, which is confusing and misleading. This article examines the copying phenomenon through insights into the economic sphere and seeks to assess the link between economic development and intellectual property protection. Apart from exploring the origin, evolution, and impact of Confucian values on current Chinese society, it extends beyond China to focus on the global intellectual property regime. By tracing and comparing development trajectories of different economies, this article demonstrates that counterfeiting and piracy are not problems caused by the Confucian ethics, as the mainstream view states, but rather common, inevitable consequences of inadequate economic development and a by-product of a unique set of socioeconomic crises deriving from the development of a dysfunctional institutional regime.

Keywords: Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement, China, Confucian values, Counterfeiting, Piracy

JEL Classification: K33

Suggested Citation

Shi, Wei, Cultural Perplexity in Intellectual Property: Is Stealing a Book an Elegant Offense? (September 30, 2010). North Carolina Journal of International Law and Commercial Regulation, Vol. 32, No. 1, 2006, Available at SSRN:

Wei Shi (Contact Author)

Bangor University Law School ( email )

College Road
Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57 2DG
United Kingdom


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