Teaching Copyright Laws in Asia

As an Elementary Teacher who is soon to be an Elementary Librarian, one of the major issues I am currently facing is how to teach my students international copyright laws, when copyright laws are usually not followed in Asia.  Many Asian cultures believe in a collective society and not in individual ownership.  Asia is known for taking an idea and making it better (just look at the automobile industry).
Until recently plagiarism has not really been discussed in Asia.  A few high profile cases in Korea have caught my attention over the past few years:
Two years ago a very famous K-Pop star, Hyo-ri, admitted to plagiarizing 6 of her songs.
Last year famous K-Pop Star, Rain, was accused of plagiarizing his songs ‘Busan Woman’.
The most famous case in South Korea happened 10 years ago:
“By far the most shocking case of Asian-style academic plagiarism, however, took place in South Korea, where the country’s education minister, Song Ja, was forced to quit his job after a citizens’ group revealed that an entire book he published, in 1982, was virtually identical to a book written 14 years earlier by two American scholars.Dr Song, formerly the president of Yonsei University, a prestigious institution in Seoul, originally came to prominence in South Korea for his outspoken views on the need for greater originality of thought in Korean education. In the preface to his 1982 book, which he titled Managerial Accounting Principles, Dr Song acknowledged having been influenced by the writings of other international academics, but, using the standard disclaimer made by writers of original work, he went on to assume authorial responsibility for the book’s content. He wrote that he hoped his book would help improve the quality of accounting education in South Korea.”

However, many Asian children don’t even know what plagiarism is until they go to college.  They are taught using the method of rote learning, which doesn’t really open up the idea to discussions of original thinking.
In the many Asian countries I have been lucky enough to visit, I see blatant rip offs of company names, signs, symbols and merchandise.  How do you teach students that plagiarism is wrong when it is all around them?  How do you go against their cultures way of thinking and impose Western ideas?  I honestly have no idea.  I plan to continue to help them see why it is wrong to steal someone else’s idea and call it yours and to show them the proper ways to give credit when credit is due.  Whether or not they choose to follow that advice is up to them.  Hopefully by starting with them at such a young age they will understand, but it is hard when you hear one thing and see another.
Crate & Barrel or Wheel & Barrow?
Pizza Hut or Pizza Huh?
Starbucks or Bucksstar?

3 thoughts on “Teaching Copyright Laws in Asia

  1. Seeing your pictures reminded me of a “sign journey” book of pictures my family made while living in China. It was everywhere, to the point of not even changing the name, but the product was something totally different, for example Circle K was a technology store (same symbols and signs), KFC was a chicken place but NOT the KFC we know. Even where I live now there is a Shang-ri-La…”but not associated with the Shang-ri-La most people know”, as the manager says. It is true that in Asia we are surrounded by this everywhere… and in many students minds I can hear a “why not”. It is cheaper and easier to get that movie, or how do I buy the ‘real’ one? Often parents are not any better at explaining what is wrong in buying a pirated DVD..this is much bigger then I can begin to imagine. I am also an elementary teacher, and I think that in the end the best I can do is to help them understand what it is like to have something of theirs used, taken and stolen. In school and in my class I need to make sure that I am modeling this and hopefully plant that seed that will help them grow into a deeper of understanding of what this means.

  2. Great post & I love your images! I’ve never thought about the cultural reasons of the rampent intellectual property rights infringement in Asia, where I live also. It’s interesting to see which countries have not signed the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works: (link to wipo.int). Neither Vietnam, where I live and pass people daily selling copied books and dvds, nor Korea have signed. I’ve wondered how to broach the subject with both students AND teachers who are just as bad, at least at my school. It’s definitely a tricky situation and I also have no idea where to begin. But at least we’re not alone. :)

  3. Pingback: Teaching Resources Middle School | Articles On Teaching

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