China’s proposal to regulate ebook industry

By Victor Tse


On 9 October 2010, the General Administration of Press and Publication (“GAPP”) announced a proposal for regulating the future development and governance of China’s electronic-book (“ebook”) industry.  The proposal defines an “ebook” as any publication containing digitised text, images, audio, video and other information content, and in particular, pre-installed or downloaded electronic content on storage media or in a portable display device.  The proposal recognises the growing importance of electronic content as a medium for disseminating knowledge and information, but also acknowledges that the growth of China’s domestic electronic content industry has been hindered by lack of electronic content providers, professional expertise, disorderly market competition and lack of industry supervision. 

One of the key obstacles for electronic content providers is that there is no single agreed or generally supported format for providing content.  Currently, many ebook formats are available, some of which are only supported by specific types of readers.  To address this, one of the GAPP’s proposals is to establish a national-level electronic content delivery platform, which may help with the standardisation process.

Other key proposals include: (i) establishing entrance criteria for different categories of ebook industry participants, who will be subject to official approval and supervision; (ii) implementing measures to strengthen copyright protection in electronic content; and (iii) establishing an industry body for regulating market competition in electronic content.