Mind you, ladies and gents, I did not study law. Not for my Bachelor’s Degree, not for my Master’s Degree. Any attempt at nabbing a Doctor’s Degree in Law vaporized when I started blogging for real — the David Feng Doctor’s Degree is slated for late 2015 — no later than that.
Having said that, though, here’s David Feng’s most complete analysis — indeed, dissection — of that “much-feared” bill — that PRC “ALL YOUR NET VIDEO ARE BELONG TO US” one.
I worked with original Chinese text of the law; this should be the version that’s valid for all legally-related matters.
• The bill was promulgated December 20, 2007 — and takes effect January 31, 2008. They’ll let at least a month lapse — in other words, this stuff will NOT take effect overnight.
• Why did they draft this bill? To “secure the interests of the State and the public, to protect the legitimate rights of the public and Internet AV service organizations, to regulate on Internet AV programs, to promote its healthy development, and in accordance with relevant State regulations.” Complex. Cut to the chase: to dump unwelcome content. (Politics, religion, and porn.)
• Article 2 defines where this law will take place — inside the frontiers of the PRC. In other words, only on servers inside Mainland China. Not Hong Kong. Not Macao. Not Taiwan. Not anywhere else. In other words, YouTube (even YouTube Taiwan) is freed from those rules.
• Article 2 further defines Internet AV programs as those produced, edited and composed for Internet broadcast, as well the uploading of such content — the bill kicks in whenever you establish an FTP/SFTP connection. Ow.
• Who’s responsible for the bill and its implementation? Article 3 picks both SARFT (the Chinese State Administration for Radio, Films and TV) in terms of supervision and general planning, as well as the MII (Chinese Ministry of Information Industry). On a more local level, local enforcement goes pretty much along the same routes — just through local organs.
• Article 4 gets a bit interesting. Those who produce AV content on the Internet, by the way, is an important component in creating “Internet culture with Chinese characteristics”. Sounds a bit like that jingle, “socialism with Chinese characteristics”, for those China watchers — and that’ll be the deepest foray I’ll make politically on this issue. And you wonder why they’re putting all that pressure on containing “reactionary content”.
• Article 5 calls, in fact, for the creation of a national community organization in charge for governing the whole Internet AV business!
• Oh, now this gets a bit more interesting: Article 6 tells you what they expect as a result of this bill. Anything that doesn’t fit with these will be — you know the drill…
Content must/should/is expected to/__fill in the blank__:
- be beneficial to disseminating advanced socialist culture
- promote and advance full development of society
- promote social harmony (remember, we are in a harmonious society)
- serve the people (of course)
- serve socialism
- stick by the “correct direction”
- put social interests first
- build up core socialist values
- follow socialist moral standards
- promote development with the times and social advancement thought culture
- promote the “excellent ethnic culture”
- offer more, better Internet AV programs
- fulfill the growing needs of the masses
- incessantly enrich the spiritual culture of the masses
- and a whole lot more…
So obviously, they’ve an agenda to push. Not their fault — this is, after all, the PRC. But yours truly has a feeling that this must be a really hard time for Internet AV content producers. That is one massive order.
• Article 7 states the all-important requirement: you must be licensed by the SARFT to do AV on the Internet. No license, no go.
• Article 8 goes on about the conditions needed to do AV on the Internet. You must:
- be a legal entity — fully owned by the State or with the majority of the shares owned by the State. Plus, you must not have been engaged in “illegal activities” within the last three years (no idea what “illegal” would mean…)
- possess a complete program safety dissemination regulatory system and other safety measures
- possess sufficient and required resources (again a bit vague)
- possess sufficient tech abilities, networks and cash, and all must be legal
- possess related personnel; those mainly involved, too, must have a clean slate for at least three years (again no idea on what this means in detail)
- technical standards conformant to State standards
- be compatible with general service projections as defined by SARFT (again no details)
- be compatible with laws and regulations of the State
Not an easy thing, then.
• Article 9 places extra conditions for those involved in news programs, hosted programs, interviews, documentaries, and online movies.
• Article 10 sets the time limits: A first opinion is to be given with 20 days of the first application; a final decision is to be given within 40 days (experts alone need their own 20 days). The license, once you finally have it, is good only for three years; you must renew it 30 days before it runs out.
• Article 15 is interesting. It encourages State-owned VCs to flush Internet AV companies with cash.
• Article 16 is what the government does not want to see:
- unconstitutional content
- content that endangers national unity or sovereignty, as well territorial unity
- content that leaks State secrets or endangers national security, or is detrimental to Chinese interests or the good name of the state of the PRC
- content which calls for racial discrimination
- content advocating “myths” (go figure…)
- content which disrupts social order or stability
- content encouraging minors to engage in criminal behavior
- pornographic content
- violent content
- content related to gambling
- terrorist content
- content which endangers social morals and ethnic traditions
- other content as defined by “relevant laws and regulations”
• In the case of detrimental content being aired, Article 18 forces the company to report to the PRC State Council. Before that, though, the offending content must first be removed.
• Penalties as defined by Articles 23 and 24 can go all the way up to CNY 30,000 (USD 4,124.56, EUR 2,802.99).