The Hong Kong SAR government is about to table the 2011 Copyright (Amendment) Bill to the Legislative Council for 2nd reading on May 9, 2012. The bill is to criminalize copyright infringement activities in all technological if the infringement is “beyond minor economic damage”.
Free speech activists have been calling for a fair dealing exemption of “derivate work” in the bill but the government has refused the amendment. A group of local artists is now launching a signature campaign to stop the bill. Below is their statement (via inmediahk.net)
Say No to Stupid Copyright Protection
Say Yes to Freedom of Creation
Local Art and Cultural Communities stand against “Copyright (Amendment) Bill”
The government claims that by “strengthening our copyright regime in the digital environment helps the environment for creativity to flourish, and would generally bring a positive impact on the economy” and is therefore proposing the “Copyright (Amendment) Bill” (see Copyright Ordinance (Chapter 528)). The government is now urging the Legislative Council to pass its “Second Public Consultation on the draft Code of Practice for Online Service Providers” on 9 May 2012. According to the draft, criminal sanctions will be introduced against so-called “unauthorised communication of copyright works”. In other words, any form of creation (namely literature. drama, music, architecture, sculpture, photography, film, broadcasting, graphic design, computer programming, sound recording and artwork creation) regarded as affecting “prejudicially the copyright owners” could be illegal and charged straight by the government. Once the draft is passed, not only netizens, but all art and cultural practitioners at large will be affected, the right to create will be deeply threatened. As part of the art and cultural circle, we denounce such draft which ignored the true meaning of right and the medium of creation today, and appeals only to the interest of copyright owners by risking destroying the creativity of art and cultural communities. We find it particularly disgusting that the government pays no attention to these contemporary situations and the voices against this bill, but intends it is rushing to pass the unjust bill now, and will only consider adjusting its details later. The legislative procedure is groundless, yet its impact will be devastating. We therefore demand:
1. Re-evaluating the Right of Creation
The production in the digital milieu has taken a very different form as we have seen in the past decade. The new forms of writings, editing, creations are intrinsic to the nature of the Internet and digital technologies, for example reproductivity, remixing, mash up, etc. The new forms of creation reconstitute the public space, and also become the proper means to access to the ‘res public’. The right to creation in this new epoch must be evaluated and be granted without regressing back to law that is against its own spirit.
2. NO Criminal Sanctions
With such a regression, the government could charge any creation with or without the knowledge of its copyright owner (if any), but who really is the creator and is there any idea which comes no where. At such, any text or image creation could be potentially charged as criminal act. The government becomes the only player that values the ‘violation’, and such law will obviously be an easy excuse for political prosecution.
3. Recognize Net Culture; Respect Intellectual Sharing
It is unjust for the government to control EVERY mode of electronic transmission including Point-to-Point and social media information sharing platform in the name of ‘protecting intellectual properties’. Derivation, transformation, rearrangement and uploading on the internet is a crucial part of network sharing culture, if not already an essential part of everyday life. The government should not sheltering the interest of mere big enterprises and business, and remain blind to the alternative ‘copyright’ movements such as the Creative Commons, General Public License, etc.
4. Reforming a fairer Copyright Bill
Creation is about freedom of expression, sharing of knowledge, values, etc. However, the current draft emphasizes only the interest of copyright owners without really paying attention to creativity and the process of creations. The draft should not be drafted only by the Commerce, Industry and Tourism Branch of the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau, instead all parties concerned including artists, creators, art-educators, scholars and cultural practitioners should be involved in rewriting the Copyright Bill.
The voice of Anti-Bill is loud enough that the Government should NOW call off the bill amendment.
Ban the “Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2011” now!
Art and cultural practitioners now stand together against such threat on creation.