Creativity and Its Discontents

China’s Creative Industries and Intellectual Property Rights Offenses

Creativity and Its Discontents

Book Pages: 312 Illustrations: 20 illustrations, 3 tables Published: January 2012

Author: Laikwan Pang

Asian Studies > East Asia, Media Studies > Media Technologies

Creativity and Its Discontents is a sharp critique of the intellectual property rights (IPR)–based creative economy, particularly as it is embraced or ignored in China. Laikwan Pang argues that the creative economy—in which creativity is an individual asset to be commodified and protected as property—is an intensification of Western modernity and capitalism at odds with key aspects of Chinese culture. Nevertheless, globalization has compelled China to undertake endeavors involving intellectual property rights. Pang examines China's IPR-compliant industries, as well as its numerous copyright violations. She describes how China promotes intellectual property rights in projects such as the development of cultural tourism in the World Heritage city of Lijiang, the transformation of Hong Kong cinema, and the cultural branding of Beijing. Meanwhile, copyright infringement proliferates, angering international trade organizations. Pang argues that piracy and counterfeiting embody the intimate connection between creativity and copying. She points to the lack of copyright protections for Japanese anime as the motor of China's dynamic anime culture. Theorizing the relationship between knockoffs and appropriation art, Pang offers an incisive interpretation of China's flourishing art scene. Creativity and Its Discontents is a refreshing rejoinder to uncritical celebrations of the creative economy.


“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.... [T]his book contains a great deal that is valuable and interesting.” — Lucy Montgomery, Times Higher Education

“This volume is, to a significant extent, an attempt to recast the debate over intellectual property rights (IPR) in the context of a broadened definition of creativity and the creative acts of invention and innovation. . . . Readers interested in cultural analysis/critique of the "new economy" would find this text valuable. . . . Recommended.” — S.J. Gabriel, Choice

“Pang presents a nuanced and wide-ranging reflection on creativity.” — Carlos Rojas, Journal of Asian Studies

“Laikwan Pang offers readers valuable insights into the creative industries in the People’s Republic of China against the backdrop of its rise as a global actor…. [T]he discussion remains broad in scope and informative. It provides many interesting insights such as comparative references to policy choices in other countries, or the important concept of Shanzhai culture in China.” — Rostam J. Neuwirth and Zhijie Chen, Journal of Cultural Policy

“Pang provokes alternative readings of shanzhai culture as not mediated exclusively by market forces, and this provides a starting point for discussions about cultural creativity, production and circulation in the global creative economy. Specialists of Chinese contemporary art, tourism, cinema and popular culture will find Pang’s framing of the historical development of these various culture industries both interesting and informative.” — Ling-Yun Tang, The China Journal

“[W]hat emerges is not just another book on intellectual property rights (IPR) but a fresh and mordant account of the agenda of the creative industries.” — Justin O’Connor, China Review International

"Laikwan Pang's thoroughly engaging study sets a new standard for analysis of the 'creative economy,' not just in China, but in every country where government officials have elevated the pursuit of creativity into industrial policy." — Andrew Ross, author of Fast Boat to China

"Making strategic use of the antagonistic role often played by China in the new global economy, Laikwan Pang raises fundamental questions about the hegemonic discourse of creativity as anchored in EuroAmerican traditions of rights, authorship, private property ownership, and reproduction. An admirably ambitious—and creative—book!" — Rey Chow, author of Sentimental Fabulations, Contemporary Chinese Films


Availability: In stock
Price: $27.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Laikwan Pang is Professor of Cultural Studies and Religious Studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. She is the author of The Distorting Mirror: Visual Modernity in China and Cultural Control and Globalization in Asia: Copyright, Piracy, and Cinema.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments vii

Introduction 1

Part I. Understanding Creativity

1. Creativity as a Problem of Modernity 29

2. Creativity as a Product of Labor 47

3. Creativity as a Construct of Rights 67

Part II. China's Creative Industries and IPR Offenses

4. Cultural Policy, Intellectual Property Rights, and Cultural Tourism 89

5. Cinema as a Creative Industry 113

6. Branding the Creative City with Fine Arts 133

7. Animation and Transcultural Signification 161

8. A Semiotics of the Counterfeit Product 183

9. Imitation or Appropriation Arts? 203

Notes 231

Bibliography 261

Index 289
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing
Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-5082-8 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5065-1
Publicity material