With a huge influx of participants, China's booming blogs are becoming a highly profitable way of online commerce, raising the issue of blog copyright.
At a forum of international copyright cooperation held recently in Changsha, capital of central-south China's Hunan province, four famous bloggers Wang Xiaofeng, Jiang Hong, Zhang Lixian and Wang Xiaoshan called for regulations for blog copyright protection.
Wang Xiaofeng, a reporter whose popular blog is known as "Massage Milk", said a number of websites and newspapers have used his postings without asking for his permission.
"It's not that hard to contact the blogger first," Wang said. "You can leave a message on the blog or send an e-mail," he added, saying excuses that there is no way to find the author are not justified.
Wang Xiaoshan, a popular blogger who also works for Chinese portal sohu.com said that the copyright issue concerns four parties, the bloggers, the blogging service providers (BSP), websites and traditional media. Most of the copyright disputes have been arisen between bloggers and traditional media, Wang said.
The most common forms of blog copyright violations are posting articles from blogs without attribution to the author or printing them in newspapers or magazines without paying any remuneration.
Last November, an associate professor at Nanjing University, found himself under attack in a blog on blogcn.com, the largest blogging service in China. He asked the website to edit the log but was refused. The professor is in the process of suing the website.
In March, Qin Tao, a Shanghai-based blogger, sued Sohu, for its unauthorized reprint of her postings. Her action was soon echoed by three other bloggers, claiming copyright infringement. The case will be tried in Beijing at late May.
In the latest case, Luo Yonghao, an English teacher at a private school in Beijing sued website pcpop.com for copyright violations and the case has been settled out of court.
"Blogs in China are growing so fast that the laws cannot keep up with," said Ping Ke, a radio DJ turned Deutsche-Welle award winning Chinese podcaster for his antiwave.net.
China's most popular blog of Xu Jinglei, an actress and a director has been visited more than 30 million times and her popularity in the blogsphere has attracted companies to place advertisements on her blog.
BSPs are looking for business models to profit from the huge blogsphere. Hexun.com has set up an advertising alliance for blogs, promoting their popular blogs to advertisers and drawing them to post ads on the blogs.
Xu Jinglei, Wang Xiaofeng and real estate tycoon Pan Shiyi already have had their blogs published as books and many BSPs are trying to provide wireless value added services to cellphone users with the contents from popular blogs.
More and more business people have become aware that blogs could eventually become a highly profitable way of musing rather than simply a lonely stage for online blathering.
According to a report released by the Internet Society of China, the number of bloggers is expected to hit 60 million by the end of this year. There were an estimated 100 million blogs worldwide and about 16 million in China in 2005.
China is the world's second-largest Internet market after the United States with more than 110 million users.
The Chinese government has so far completed drafting the Protection of the Right of Communication through Network. The draft, which is aimed at better protecting copyrights, has won approval from the State Council, China's cabinet.
According to the draft, uploading writings, performances and recorded sounds and videos to the Internet for downloading, copying or other use, must acquire permission of the copyright owners and pay a certain amount of fees.
"The new regulation will give guidance to copyright protection over the Internet," said Shen Rengan, director-general of the Copyright Society of China.