The Ex-Ante Anthropological Approach to Chinese Music Piracy: Hip-Hop Culture Writes Its Own Story

Journal of Eurasian Law, Vol. 3, No. 1, 2010

28 Pages Posted: 17 Nov 2010

Date Written: November 17, 2010


While the Internet has presented unprecedented potential for the profitability of recorded music, it has also created many challenges for a reactive copyright system. Opportunistic entrepreneurs have developed lucrative distribution models that circumvent copyright protection. Moreover, these e-commerce models, which embrace the Confucian ideal of sharing, have normalized a culture of music piracy in China. This normalization has catalyzed a culturally inspired copyright dispute between the United States and China.

This article explores the history of Chinese copyright law as it has been shaped by Confucian political culture, and discusses the socioeconomic factors hindering the effective enforcement of China’s modern copyright regime. Additionally, it reveals that the ex-post legal strategy utilized to combat music piracy in China has compounded the enforcement issues due to its insensitivity to such cultural norms.

Ultimately, in reconsidering the efficacy of the recording industry’s ex-post legal strategy, the article proposes an ex-ante anthropological approach that embraces and interacts with Chinese culture. Furthermore, it advances a grassroots educational program called Thru the Music that attempts to promote copyright consciousness through Chinese hip-hop culture. By tailoring this educational campaign to suit the current creating and consuming culture of Chinese hip-hop, it allows the music to speak for itself, redefining the norms of Chinese music consumption.

Keywords: copyright law, music, piracy, copyright infringement, China, culture, Confucian, trade, Hip-Hop, intellectual property, recording industry

JEL Classification: O34, A13, K33, L82, N15, N45, N70, N75, O33, O38, O51, O53, P11, P12, P16, P26, P51, Z10

Suggested Citation

Winkler, Thomas Patrick, The Ex-Ante Anthropological Approach to Chinese Music Piracy: Hip-Hop Culture Writes Its Own Story (November 17, 2010). Journal of Eurasian Law, Vol. 3, No. 1, 2010, Available at SSRN:

Thomas Patrick Winkler (Contact Author)

Sophistic Arts ( email )

77 Ludlow St.
Suite 7S/8S
New York, NY 10002
United States
314.566.8146 (Phone)


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