University of Nottingham Ningbo China
AHRC Centre for
Digital Copyright and IP Research in China
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Project 5: Regulating Internet Intermediaries in China: Legal and Empirical Evidence for Better Policy Making


 PI Dr. Lingling Wei

Centre for Intellectual Property Policy and Management (CIPPM), Bournemouth University, UK

 Co-I Prof. Shunde Li Law Department, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China 


Research question

IP protection problems as the result of Internet-based technology and business innovation have wide repercussions on economic growth, consumer interests and cultural prosperity. This project therefore addresses the question of how China could develop a regulatory framework that

(1)          adequately protects IP interests;

(2)          is compatible with the business models of Internet intermediaries;

(3)          is responsive to the interests of consumers, in particular the poor; and

(4)          is consistent with the public interest in economic growth and technology and business innovation.

Accordingly, the project focuses on the interface between the conflicting needs of three relevant stakeholders, namely 1) copyright and trade mark owners, 2) operators of online platforms, and 3) end users.


Research design and methodology

The project comprises three work packages (WP).

WP1 evaluates the current state of Chinese law and comparatively analyses the Chinese and UK legislative approaches. This is particularly timely because of the forthcoming Chinese E-commerce Act.

WP2 focuses on the intermediaries’ business models and strategies. Intermediaries’ business models will be analysed in relation to their attitude on protection of third parties’ IP. This evidence will be crucial to design policies on intermediaries’ responsibility, which would not undermine the viability of their business models.

Finally, WP3 focuses on the consumers’ attitude to IP protection. Evidence has suggested that law that is inconsistent with moral intuitions is less likely to be respected by consumers, which is partly why there is large-scale online piracy today. WP3 also looks into consumers’ IP literacy and frequent uploaders’ behavioural patterns to seek alternative measures to control online infringement.