As the internet evolves, companies and regulators often find it hard to keep up. But keep up they must if their business is to remain their own, or their regulation is to remain effective. Richard Li and Joy Jiao report
From the moment it intruded on our calm and quiet lives, the internet has been a truculent servant, often demanding as much of our time as it saves, and offering as much financial ruin as opportunity to the unwary.
Its overwhelming popularity and rapid development has changed traditional lifestyles and challenged entrepreneur and lawmaker alike to keep up with its incessant pace in order to protect intellectual property (IP) rights and avoid the many entanglements of wiley infringers.
“Limited by the characteristics of the industry, internet companies cannot fully filter and vet all information on their network platforms, especially to tell in much detail whether such information violates the civil rights of others,” says Frank Liu, a partner in the Shanghai office of Jincheng Tongda & Neal. “If internet companies were required too strictly to perform its duty of care, it would not only lead to direct conflict with regulations, but also have a negative influence on the development of the internet industry.”
Zhang Hui, a partner in the Beijing office of ZY Partners, says that as products and operation modes of websites are developing, the forms of infringement on the internet are also constantly changing. “Features of the internet such as virtualization, digitalization and openness make IP infringement easier, more frequent and more difficult to find,” she says.
Zheng Yanling, another partner at ZY Partners in Beijing, has noted that some websites have started to use “safe harbour principle” as an excuse to avoid legal risk through various product modes such as BBS (bulletin board system), online communities for information sharing, search functions, links, network disks, player software, cloud storage and P2P (person to person) downloading software.