Online Piracy and the Copyright

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Background: The heated debate about the Copyright(Amendment) Bill has been sparked again since the re-amendment in 2014. Commonly known as the “Internet Article 23″, it was first introduced in 2011 in order to combat online piracy. The government claimed that it is a must to amend the law due to its obsolescence, and that it can strengthen creative industry.

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But, many fear that it might become a tool for the government to restraint the publication of creative contents on the Internet, especially re-creations that express different political stance. Various groups including Keyboard Frontline and Neo Democrats have openly expressed their discontent of its re-introduction. Thoughts: The rapid advancement of technology has brought us convenience, but also nightmares to music producers, film makers and software developers. The current anti-piracy law and copyright law indeed do not provide enough protection to producers, which contributes to the diminishment of local creative industries in recent year. The copyright system of Hong Kong is also seriously lagging behind its regional competitors (C. Lam, 2014). Undoubtedly, an amendment is a must in order to keep up with the development of various sharing platform. The only question lies in whether the rights of individual Internet user will be deprived of by this amendment. In my opinion, the 2014 bill has some clear improvements on the balance between right of speech and copyright. The new amendments introduced new areas of exception to rights. The most notable areas include parody, satire, caricature and pastiche (IPD, 2014), which are the areas that Internet users pay most attention to. In addition, the purpose of comments, quotation and materials for distance learning are also exempted(IPD, 2014). However, some major doubts from the public remain unanswered, such as the ambiguity concerning the effects of published content on sales and profit. Moreover, the proposed areas are limited in a sense that it does not suit the needs of most Internet users. Many people have expressed their concern about the legal liability of posting non-profit re-creations that are not included in the areas of exemption, including music cover and live-stream gaming. These forms of entertainments are increasingly popular on social networks like Youtube and Twitch, and they are becoming the major forms of online entertainment. It is not hard to comprehend the negative feedback from the cyber community, given that these popular non-profit making creations do not enjoy legal exemption. Suggestions: Some terminologies in the bill seem ambiguous to many people and these terms need to be defined clearly. For example, to what extent is the “economic” damage (IPD, 2014) big enough to cause a criminal offense? How about the ways to materialize the “substitution” effect (IPD, 2014)of the content? The government has failed to answer these questions since the re-introduction of the law. Moreover, the areas of exemption is something that authorities can work on. The SAR government should refine the current proposed areas, to exempt popular forms of creations and entertainments from criminal liabilities. To conclude, the amendment bill is a double-edged sword, depending on how it is used. It can be used to combat piracy effectively and to protect intellectual properties. At the same time, it can also pose threats to the development of small scale creativity industries. It is a must for the government to realize the needs of Internet users and make further changes to the amendment. Share this:

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Related Living in a world without sharingIn “Intellectual Property Law” Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2011: Should re-creation be exempted?In “Intellectual Property Law” Posts navigation ← Regulation Amendment for MPF – Appropriatestep? Monument vs. Development – Who decide which comesfirst → 6 comments on “Copyright Amendment 2014, has the government doneenough?”

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posting the issue about “Internet Article 23″, which is close to us but not enough attention is paid by HK netizens. Here are my little thoughts on on the feasibility of the implementation of the law. If the amendment is passed, creating derivative works may become an infringement of copyright and thus a criminal offense. needless. Thus, I agree with you that there must be a clear guidance for everyone of how to judge whether the creative works is an infringement of copyright because it is now the government’s work to make decision on each creative works. The second question is “Who to sue”, it is difficult to identify who is the creator/user of the work from the Internet. In the past twenty years, only handful of Internet Law cases in the US and most of them are suing against companies/organization instead of individuals (Internet-law-Library). This means the law is somehow favor to intellectual properties from infringement of other business entities. If this is the case, Government should make further amendment including the Exemption of Derivative works to ease public concerns. Reference: Reply

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Tse Siu Hang, Wilson (3035103112) on February 24, 2015 at 4:14 PM said: It is true that the Internet changes fast and the government needs to often examine whether the law about copyright meets the requirement nowadays, so some amendments maybe needed. However, Copyright Amendment 2014 seems to to be inappropriate. Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2014 states many more new restrictions and exemptions concerning copyright issues. The bill was a common law and it became a statutory law. This made the consideration of the judge become conservative. The judges have to strictly follow the items listed on the bill when adjudicating on cases of copyright issues. They can no longer base on the unique nature of each case to judge. According to the government spokesman, remaining “in pace with the rapid development of the knowledge-based economy” is the government’s reason for proposing the amendment (Government, 2014). Actually, the development could be far more rapid that the government can imagine. When the amendment is put into effect, the Internet may have already changed. The judges should have higher flexibility in dealing with copyright cases, but not just follow the long list of obsolescent “new rules”. Reply

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highly relevant issue in the digital age. I fully agree with you in that it is necessary, and surely the government’s responsibility to clearly define and explain any ambiguities that may exist in the terminology within or influences of the amended Copyright Bill. Ambiguities can lead to unwanted loopholes that may come into existence and provide a path for people to violate the beliefs and values regarding cyberspace copyright protected by the Bill. Another point of concern raised by the amendment is the rights to charge given to the government, bypassing the wishes of the copyright owner. Current trends in cyberspace includes a significant amount of User Generated Content (UGC), such as creative materials published on the website 9GAG and much of the popular content on Facebook. In such cases, it would be unreasonable for the government to hold the rights to charge any re-creators or similar users of the content. References

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Thanks for your in-depth explanation and contrast about the new and old “Internet Article 23” of the HK Copyright Bill 2011, which has stirred up my discontent towards government’s attitude in the development of creative industry in Hong Kong. It is widely believed that a global trend of increasing regulation on digital infringement of copyrighted materials has formed alongside with the escalating technology on copyright infringement. Recently, couples strikes against torrent giants PirateBay.com and Kickass Torrent has been implemented. The notion that commercial copyright infringement can harm the creator’s incentive seems uncontroversial, yet what highlighted in the Internet Article 23 is not the direct deliverance of copyrighted items, but online re-creation. It brings us to question how online recreation can possibly bring harm to the creator, and hence, its side effects on freedom of speech, and the development of creative industries. Having said that creative industry will be a stressed developing business, this amendment of internet article 23 shows that the HK government seems taking a step backward. As aforementioned in the above articles, unlike direct infringement like online sharing, or issuance of illegal copies, the economic damage prompted by merely online recreation is questioned, and cannot be easily estimated. Whilst innovations are made based on prior production, this amendment is undermining HK’s creative industry as it further discourages artists to create and rejuvenate. Therefore, in the light of its negative impact on creative industries, and the incompatibility of interests of creators, further examination is needed in this topic. An amendment that can balance interest of creators and owners is needed. Reference: O. Lam (23, Apr, 2007). Hong Kong: Internet Article 23. Global Voices. https://globalvoicesonline.org/2007/04/23/hong-kong-internet-article-23/ Reply

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giving us such a clear and detailed introduction of the copyright issue in Hong Kong. When discussing the amendment on the copyright ordinance, I think it is also essential for us to review the enforcement of the current copyright ordinance. it is clearly stated that, even distributing a small line of a published song is an illegal action. However, it is quite clear that enforcement of such law is not strong enough. Recently, a lot of Hong Kong lyric writers have posted comments on Facebook complaining the infringement of their copyrights stalls. It is almost a tradition for stall owners to sell infringing products in the fairs. We can always see illegal copies of cartoon characters in the fairs. Local lyric writers are the latest victims. Their lyrics for popular songs are being printed on “creative” products by a stall. Although it is very obvious that this is an illegal action, no prosecution was seen. Amendments on the copyright ordinance are obviously essential. However, in this gridlock between the amendments being a political weapon or a cure for the infringements, perhaps strengthening the enforcement of the current ordinance might be an immediate solution. Reply

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sharing the news with all of us While I agree with the points raised by fellow classmates stating that the old copyright law is outdated and needs to be amended in order to catch up with the ever changing trend in crime, there is the one problem with the Bill making it an unacceptable Bill to be passed for the sake of freedom of speech The 2 major problems are authorizing the government on charging the defendant, and the use of particular phrases or words in the Bill which are not clear or concise enough Even with the new 2014 revised Bill, these 2 parts still exist as part of the Bill and it causes speculation on the government on what they want to achieve with the new Bill other than revising the copyright law to catch up with the global trend. As with the government being able to charge on the behalf of the corporation will likely lead to political prosecutions with the fact that the terms used in the Bill are not well defined enough to prevent this from happening As mentioned above, most of the parody used in the political aspect can be subject to the revised Bill as the economic loss is not well defined enough, as the government will be able to prosecute as it wishes, even when the corporation has no incentive to charge the particular person, as it might to actually affect their own interests. All in all the copyright law should be revised, but not in order to limit the freedom of speech

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