“You’re stepping on my shadow, please back off,” she said.

Sun Yisheng / Nicky Harman

How is piracy perceived in China?

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Piracy is of course an enormous issue for the domestic market, but is largely accepted as a fact of life. Well-received books can be expected to come out in three or four different pirated editions, with sales two or three times higher than the authorized version. There appears to be very little anyone can do about it; some authors even take it as a point of pride when a book is heavily pirated.

A note on piracy outside the world of literature: Many Chinese filmmakers, musicians, critics and fans consider film and musical piracy to be essential to the development of a modern artistic sensibility in China. Pirated films have allowed Chinese directors to stay abreast of the work of their colleagues overseas, and pirated CDs have given Chinese musicians access to a range of musical styles they could hardly have imagined ten years ago. In addition, the phenomenon of "self-piracy" has afforded a new generation of directors the opportunity to distribute their banned films - with plausible denial - to audiences in mainland China.


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