Younger gen­er­a­tions in China are now devel­op­ing a stronger copy­right con­scious­ness

Global Times – Metro Beijing - - FRONT PAGE - By Li Lin

If one asks what Zhang Ya’s most an­tic­i­pated movie is this year, he would say Gin­tama. Adapted from the Ja­panese manga by the same name, the movie star­ring Shun Oguri de­buted in China on Septem­ber 1. Zhang has been a fan of Gin­tama an­i­ma­tion and manga since 2010. Zhang went to

the cin­ema the day it came me out and watched the movie. vie. Along with him were manyny of his friends,friends who are also crazy fans of Gin­tama.

“Since I learned that Gin­tama would be in­tro­duced to China, I de­cided to see it in a cin­ema. I hope the au­thor Hideaki So­rachi can feel his Chi­nese fans’ en­thu­si­asm and sup­port through the box of­fice earn­ings,” said the 32-year-old soft­ware engi­neer.

Dur­ing the first week the movie was on, Zhang found all of his friends had gone to see it. They posted pho­tos of their movie tick­ets and the posters on their WeChat Mo­ments.

“I found that no one I knew was ask­ing for the pi­rated ver­sion on­line, like tor­rents or sneak pre­views, which was com­mon a few years ago,” he said. “Many of my friends even went to the cin­ema twice or three times to show their sup­port, which I think would make So­rachi very happy.”

In seven days, Gin­tama’s box of­fice earn­ings reached 73.7 mil­lion yuan ($11.3 mil­lion). Ac­cord­ing to a Septem­ber 4 re­port by news por­tal, two more Ja­panese an­i­ma­tion movies will be re­leased in China in Septem­ber – The

Shape of Voice and Sword Art On­line: Or­di­nal Scale.

Ac­cord­ing to Wang Qian, a mem­ber of the Copy­right So­ci­ety of China and a pro­fes­sor on copy­right in East China Univer­sity of Po­lit­i­cal Sci­ence and Law, younger gen­er­a­tions in China have de­vel­oped an in­creas­ing aware­ness of what copy­right is.

Aware­ness grows with age

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, Gin­tama is on over 12,000 screens in 8,000 cin­e­mas in China, while in Ja­pan it is only show­ing on 3,400 screens. Fans formed cos­play groups and went to the cin­ema, and many of them watched it re­peat­edly.

Be­sides the box of­fice earn­ings, re­cently, Gin­tama an­ime prod­ucts have been gain­ing pop­u­lar­ity. A on­line shop owner sell­ing

Gin­tama re­lated prod­ucts, nick­named “Toshi,” told Met­ro­pol­i­tan that re­cently many cus­tomers or­der orig­i­nal garage kits. He now lives in Tokyo and goes shop­ping once a week to fill the or­ders he re­ceives on Taobao. Orig­i­nal garage kits and manga books are the most pop­u­lar. He in­creases the price by 10 to 15 per­cent and earns the price dif­fer­ence.

“I have a job and I only did this as a fa­vor for my friends in the Chi­nese main­land years ago, but more and more peo­ple come to me for orig­i­nal Ja­panese manga prod­ucts, so I opened an on­line shop,” he said.

“I think young peo­ple in their 20s and 30s are will­ing to pay for these prod­ucts be­cause they have deep feel­ings for manga, are eco­nom­i­cally in­de­pen­dent and are well ed­u­cated and know the im­por­tance of pro­tect­ing copy­rights.”

The garage kits he sells are ex­pen­sive, most of which are more than 1,000 yuan.

“I re­mem­ber that a woman in her 30s paid me over 5,000 yuan for a lim­it­ededi­tion ver­sion of a Sailor Moon mu­sic box set, which is very rare even in Ja­pan,” he said. “In China, there are il­le­gal fac­to­ries pro­duc­ing sim­i­lar prod­ucts and some even have bet­ter crafts­man­ship than the orig­i­nals, which were pro­duced in the 1990s, but the woman in­sisted on buy­ing the orig­i­nal.”

Zhang said most young Chi­nese gain

their copy-copy right aware­ness grad­u­ally while grow­ing up. When he was in pri­mary school, he did not know what copy­right was and the prod­ucts like manga books, video game discs and mu­sic tapes were all pi­rated copies. Af­ter he en­tered ju­nior high school, he wanted to buy orig­i­nal prod­ucts be­cause they are of good qual­ity and it would make him look cool among his class­mates.

“How­ever, when I en­tered univer­sity, I be­came an ACG fan (an­i­ma­tion, comics and games), and I be­gan to know the im­por­tance of sup­port­ing le­gal ver­sions of cul­tural prod­ucts,” he said. “Sup­port­ing le­gal ver­sions can pro­vide con­sumers a bet­ter ex­pe­ri­ence. If we sup­port orig­i­nal manga and an­i­ma­tion, the au­thors and pro­duc­ers will be more mo­ti­vated to cre­ate new work and im­prove the qual­ity; if we sup­port orig­i­nal games, we can get bet­ter ser­vices like bet­ter im­age qual­ity, more con­ve­nient down­loads and quicker up­dates and bug re­pair.”

Zhang said he paid for many video shar­ing web­sites like Youku, Iqiyi and Sohu’s mem­ber­ships to watch an­ima-

tion and TV se­ries. “Al­though I can watch a le­gal copy of Gin­tama on Youku, I paid for the mem­ber­ship,” he said. “I think fans hope that there will never be a day when Gin­tama ends, so what we should do is to sup­port and pay for le­gal ver­sions in­stead of shout­ing slo­gans while buy­ing pi­rate prod­ucts.”

ACG group will­ing to pay

Ac­cord­ing to a re­port re­leased in 2016 by iRe­search, a provider of on­line au­di­ence mea­sure­ments and con­sumer in­sights in China, ACG fans are very will­ing to pay for prod­ucts and the av­er­age amount of money they spent on ACG prod­ucts is 1,700 yuan. Most of the money is in­vested in orig­i­nal garage kits, watch­ing and buy­ing manga and an­i­ma­tion and buy­ing video games. The re­port also re­vealed that in 2016, ACG fans in China reached 230 mil­lion and in 2017, the num­ber will be over 300 mil­lion. Over 97 per­cent of them are born in the 1990s and 2000s.

Wang said there’s no doubt that the copy­right aware­ness among young peo­ple is in­creas­ing rapidly be­cause China’s econ­omy is devel­op­ing quickly, and peo­ple are bet­ter ed­u­cated. China is now the sec­ond largest econ­omy in the world, and peo­ple have been able to make more money and in­vest in cul­tural prod­ucts, and the copy­right aware­ness has in­creased nat­u­rally.

He said another rea­son young peo­ple to have a stronger copy­right aware­ness is that they can ex­pe­ri­ence the im­por­tance of copy­right pro­tec­tion in their daily lives.

“For ex­am­ple, more and more young peo­ple have started their own busi­nesses and they have many ideas, and a good at­mos­phere of re­spect­ing copy­right is good for ev­ery­one who cre­ates,” he said.

In­dus­try growth, in­ter­na­tional vi­sion

Wang said it that it is pos­i­tive to de­velop China and the world’s cul­tural in­dus­try and in­crease China’s in­ter­na­tional im­age for Chi­nese young peo­ple to have a stronger copy­right aware­ness.

“Ac­tu­ally, the first law on copy­right in China was is­sued in 1990, and we have made great progress in a short time of about 30 years,” he said. “Al­though now the copy­right aware­ness of the pub­lic in China still has a gap com­pared with peo­ple in de­vel­oped coun­tries, we are do­ing bet­ter and bet­ter.”

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, the im­prove­ment of copy­right aware­ness of ACG fans in China and their huge con­sump­tion po­ten­tial has led to a hot trend of in­tro­duc­ing for­eign cul­tural prod­ucts and an in­vest­ment trend from over­seas, es­pe­cially Ja­pan.

Ac­cord­ing to the Ja­panese An­i­ma­tion In­dus­try Re­port re­leased by the As­so­ci­a­tion of Ja­panese An­i­ma­tions in Au­gust 2016, copy­right deals and re­lated prod­uct devel­op­ment with China is be­com­ing a more and more im­por­tant force in driv­ing Ja­pan’s an­i­ma­tion in­dus­try for­ward. Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, Fuji Tele­vi­sion, one of the pro­duc­ers of the an­i­ma­tion As­sas­si­na­tion Class­room told the as­so­ci­a­tion that the cost of pro­duc­ing As­sas­si­na­tion Class­room was to­tally cov­ered just by sell­ing the copy­right in the Chi­nese mar­ket. Also, Toei An­i­ma­tion’s copy­right to broad­cast in China was bought out by iQiyi, and its an­i­ma­tion movie Stand by Me Do­rae­mon’s (2015) box of­fice earn­ings were 10 bil­lion yen ($9.17 mil­lion) in China, which is even more than in Ja­pan.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­port by news­portal in Oc­to­ber 2016, be­sides sell­ing copy­rights to China, many Ja­panese pro­duc­ers have al­ready be­gun in­vest­ing in the Chi­nese an­i­ma­tion in­dus­try. Li Xiaot­ing, di­rec­tor of Ten­cent’s an­i­ma­tion de­part­ment said on Oc­to­ber 20 that the an­i­ma­tion in­dus­tries in China and Ja­pan are go­ing into a win-win di­rec­tion, which is based on co­op­er­a­tion in copy­right deals.

“I be­lieve that with the growth of the younger gen­er­a­tion, es­pe­cially ACG fans, the copy­right aware­ness of Chi­nese peo­ple will be­come stronger and stronger,” Zhang said. “And with our strong sup­port for an­i­ma­tion, manga and games, the ACG and cul­tural in­dus­tries in China and for­eign coun­tries, not only in Ja­pan, will boost to­gether in the fu­ture.”

Left above: Kagura played by Kanna Hashimoto (left) and Shin­pachi Shimura played by Masaki Suda in the Gin­tama movie. Two fans of One Piece take a selfie One Piece ex­hi­bi­tion in Shang­hai. Riat a ght be­low: Gin­toki Sakata played by Shun Oguri (right)...

Photo: IC

A fan of Gin­tama cos­plays Gin­toki Sakata at a comicon in Beijing.

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