Creativity and Its Discontents: China's Creative Industries and Intellectual Property Rights Offenses

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Creativity and its Discontents: China's Creative Industries and Intellectual Property Rights Offenses. By Laikwan Pang. Duke University Press. 320pp, Pounds 67.00 and Pounds 16.99. ISBN 9780822350651 and 50828. Published 10 February 2012

These days it is almost impossible to pick up a newspaper without coming across a news story relating to China's extraordinary rise and growing economic might. The figures are impressive: when Mao Zedong died in 1976, the People's Republic of China was an internationally isolated, predominantly agricultural nation with a centrally planned economy and a per-capita GDP of $155. In 2012, China is the world's second-largest economy.

As the member states of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development wrestle with the fallout of the global financial crisis and struggle to avoid a double-dip recession, China has maintained its growth rate while its levels of domestic consumption continue to increase. Understanding what is happening within this vast and complex nation is thus a challenge to be taken seriously by readers seeking to understand current economic and cultural landscapes.

Furthermore, it would be difficult for even the most technophobic scholar to ignore the fact that new technologies for copying and communication are challenging policymakers and academic communities worldwide to rethink relationships between intellectual property rights, creativity, culture and commerce. Accordingly, US-based scholar Laikwan Pang's decision to tackle the role of intellectual property rights in the creative economy in the context of China could not be more timely.

The book raises key questions for those interested in understanding the problematic relationship between intellectual property rights and the creative economy: the fetishisation of "creativity" within discourses surrounding these rights, the contentious role of copying in artistic practice and cultural change, and tensions between cultural diversity and global intellectual property frameworks, to name but a few. Her decision to use China as a rich opportunity to explore and develop wider theoretical arguments is also to be commended.

Creativity and its Discontents begins by critiquing the creative economy concept as an expression of neoliberalism, followed by a closer look at how this is being played out in relation to intellectual property rights in specific Chinese contexts. …