Tag Archives: Law, I Praticed

Wikipedia and Internet Regulation in Mainland China

This is Submission in Wikimania 2013.

The development of Wikipedia in Mainland China is not good in past few years. Wikipedia have been blocked several times for some sensitive articles, which is not welcome by the Chinese authority. So far, most of the Wikipedia articles and services can be accessed through “https”. For a long time, the Chinese Wikipedia can only be added/modified by people in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, and VPN(or other proxy services) users in Mainland China, etc. without the participation of 500 million netizion, the number and quality of the Chinese Wikipedia articles suffered a huge lose.

The Chinese government never explained the rules of blocking, there won’t be any notice before or after the blocking. And of course you can’t sue any department, because no department is responsible for this action and no court will take such cases. If the reporters ask the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, spokesman/spokeswoman would simply claimed the government just manage the Internet legally.

Last December, an Internet real-name system law passed in China. It required all the websites and Internet Service Provider(ISP) verifying the real-name information of their users. Besides this, another regulation required every websites put their records on government’s file before they go online, some websites are even required multiple approvals by different departments. The authority prefer the idea of “under-controlled encyclopedia”(like Baidu Baike) rather than a free encyclopedia out of their hand. Since the real-name system law had been passed, the government could simply declare Wikipedia fail to provide real-name information and therefore violate the law, that’s why it have to be blocked again.

As long as the rule of blocking is not clear, the development of Wikipedia in Mainland China have to face risk of blocking all the time.

Abstract of my dissertation

This dissertation mainly describes following issues: 1.What is virtual property? 2.What are the legal relationships on virtual propriety? 3.How to protect virtual propriety? The virtual propriety mentions in this dissertation includes e-mail account, domain name, online-game account, etc. The ownership of virtual propriety is belong to the ICP(Internet Content Provider), meanwhile, the users take possession of virtual propriety, they are able to use it. From the perspective of civil law, users’ right could be protected under possession, their relationship with ICP contains both creditor’s rights and debt obligation. From the perspective of criminal law, under the circumstance of not modifying the law and the principal of legally prescribed punishment for a specified, stealing virtual propriety might be convicted under computer crime.

The Casebooks in China

As we all know, there’s no case law in China, People’s court trail a case simply by its statutes, part of them are made by Renda(Congress), others are made by government. This kind of pattern could be seen in many countries, like France, Germany, and other country had not rule by Britain. Law in these countries are also called ‘government’s law’, contrast to ‘judge’s law’ in Britain and the US.

Even the importance of cases in China could not match the importance of statutes, cases are still matter in the process of studying law. Cases have been selected and piece them into books, most famous casebook in China is People’s Court Casebooks, which made by People’s Supreme Court. There are two editions of this series, one serie is published by its own press, named People’s Court Press, which publish four books each year, each book contain  criminal law, civil law, administrative law, intellectual property, and busniess law. Until 2010, seventy books had been published. The other edition is published by Fazhi(means rule by law in Chinese) Press, this edition is published monthly, and the cases in these two edition are totally different.

Although one could not quote these cases in court, some professors, like Feng Xiang(冯象), who got a J.D. in Yale and a Ph.D. in Harvard, also have Mei Ruao(a judge in Tokyo Trail after World War II) chair in Tsinghua Law School, recommended law school student should read two books, one of them is People’s Court Casebooks, for it provide the best way to understand law in China.

Before I came to law school, I set a goal for myself, which is read all these casebooks before I get a master degree, but unfortunately, even I still have more than a year, it already seems a mission impossible for me.