Hong Kong: Copyright = creativity?


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


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:


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.



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:


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.

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。

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。


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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