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Hong Kong: Copyright = creativity?

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The Hong Kong Government has announced the consultation paper on “Copyright protection in the Digital Environment” in early January this year. Many has pointed out that the consultation is based on the interest of corporate copyright holders rather than individuals and consumers. Worse still, some suggestions within the consultation papers are threatening to freedom of speech and expression, and eventually the development of creative industry in Hong Kong.

I have put up a post at interlocals.net about the background of this consultation and an announcement of a upcoming symposium in April 1, Copyright = Creativity in response to the government's paper. The official annoucncement of the symposium is at the to be launched open knowledge project website (zh).

There are not so many discussions in the local blogsphere yet as the public is still ignorant of the details of the consultation and the government’s advertisement has been trying to equalize copyright protection to protection of creative industry in Hong Kong.

Charles from Civic-express pointed out in early Jan that

希望大家能注視到香港的數碼版權諮詢,打擊侵權不能以落伍的版權概念掛帥,必須全面平衡各方利益,消費者也要意識到他們是有權爭取更多的權益;政府不能偏聽有組織和國際財團支持的一方,保障消費者和本地小型創作者利益,是政府在政策檢討中的責任。

I hope everyone will concern about the consultation on digital copyright. The prevention of copyright violation can be not based on old fashioned copyright concept; it should balance the interest of different social group. Consumer should be aware that they can protect their rights. The government should not only listen to the big corporations’ opinions, it has the responsibility to protect consumers and local artists in this consultation.

Pigazine also felt that the consultation has neglected public interest:

就諮詢文件而言,好像側重了版權持有人的保護,而有點兒忽略了大眾。

It seems that the consultation document has too much emphasis on protecting the copyright holders’ interest while neglecting the public.

On commenting the copyright infringement of local newspapers against a blogger, hkxforce asked whether the government are willing to protect ordinary citizen.

政府在《在數碼環境中保護知識產權》中,大力協助大企業追討市民侵權,但是政府又有沒有想過要幫助小市民向大企業追討呢?

諷刺的是,是次諮詢是由工商及科技局的工商科負責。看來,政府根本是打正旗號由工商角度出發,小市民的權益並不在考慮之列。

In the “Copyright Protection in the Digital Environment”, the government puts so much efforts in helping big corporations to crack down copyright infringement from ordinary citizen, however, has the government even think of protection ordinary citizen to claim their right from big corporations?

Ironically, this consultation is carried out by the Commerce, Industry and Technology Bureau, it is rather obviously that the government's starting point is from the interest of commerce and industry sector and does not take into account the right of ordinary citizens.

A local teacher, Fongyun summarized a discussion of a seminar organized by the education bureau on the government consultation in Feb . He quoted from comments from the floor that:

太嚴苛的版權法會妨礙教育,繼而影響資訊流通和創意發展(鼓勵創意是版權法聲稱的目的)。法律是限制人的行為,所以越少越好。

If the copyright law is too strict, it will affect education, has negative impacts on information flow and creativity (even though the copyright law claims that it wants to encourage creativity.

有老師問及「翻譯」和「改寫」版權作品當教材的問題。
法理上,版權包括翻譯和改寫的權利,這些 adaptations 要得到版權持有人的同意。
將來的「公平處理」是否涵蓋這方面,似乎並不確定。

A teacher asks whether “translation” and “rewriting” of copyright text for education use would violate the law. Although according to the spirit of the law, rewriting and translation is part of the copyright, and need to get approval from the copyright holder. It is not sure whether the future “fair use” would cover this part.

對於圖書館而言,由於科技進步,不時都需要把舊影音檔案進行「格式轉換」(format shifting),所以她很怕會觸犯法例和產品使用條款。

For the library, because of the progress of technology, they need to do “format shifting” all the time, she (a librarian) is afraid that she will violate the law.

A local artist Karden whose work has recently been infringed by a commercial magazine, comments that

作為一個會創作的人,到出事之後才去看什麼是creative commons, 實在羞恥到極點。

原來現有的版權法制度根不能全面保障原創人,簡單來說有錢的創作人也許可以得到較多的保障,窮人如我就比較難,他們可以從文事途徑追討,窮人如我,律師多數也不建議。

As an artist, I am ashamed that only recently I get to know what is creative commons.

Then I find out that the existing copyright system cannot protect the author or the creator, or, so to speak, the wealthy people can enjoy more protection. Poor as I am, it is very difficult. The wealthy can use civil law to protect their rights, poor as I am, the lawyer would ask me not to pursue.

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