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I have always been among those who believed that the greatest freedom of speech was the greatest safety, because if a man is a fool the best thing to do is to encourage him to advertise the fact by speaking. (我以為讓愚蠢的人自暴其醜, 正是最大之言論自由所以是最安全的主因)


非官方發佈資料 Unofficial Release

Opinion on the Amendment to the Copyright Ordinance 2010
- ref: /doc/gov/10/on-copyright_100302 -

- Editorial Team

0. Disclaimer

The following informations and opinions are provided for general reference purposes only. We truly believe that the sources of information is reliable but do not guarantee their accuracy or completeness. In all discussion. We faithfully maintain a balanced and objective view without prejudice to any entity on any issue, opinion, activity or behavior regardless of the identity of the entities involved. Regarding the issues involving professional knowledge regulated by law, the information may serves as a general reference but not a substitute for professional advice obtained from a qualified person, firm or corporation.

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1. Preamble

Two years ago we submitted our opinion on the 2007 amendment bill because we felt that the prevailing copyright ordinance and the proposed amendment were extremely biased to wealthy intellectual property owners and professional litigators who preyed on frivolous and malicious legal claim. Because of the practice of the biased copyright law and the rampant activities of frivolous or unethical litigators, we were forced to adopted the most “defensive mode of operation” including suspending more than 95% of our retailing business, some input/output services, and the overwhelming use of disclaimer. Ordinary people, most probably including the government officials may think that the disclaimer preceding this proposal looks rather odd or ridiculous. To be honest, we are in fact demonstrating an inevitable procedure in the course of our  operation taken as a resigned defensive measure for the protection of us against frivolous claim from malicious and unethical litigators.  We have reasons to believe that the culture of disclaimer is exactly a consequence of some sort of "intellectual corruption" manifested by the abuse of law and legal procedure  intended for legal extortion of which more and more are related to copyright or intellectual property.

After two years since the last amendment to the copyright ordinance, though the web 2.0, which featured by spontaneous response and interaction among peers on the net has been further consolidated as the common standard of internet in the mean time, we saw little improvement in the philosophy behind the new consultation paper released in 2009. Furthermore, from the presentation of the guest speakers in a seminar held by the “Internet Society Hong Kong (ISOC HK) 1,  we felt that the view of government officials and law drafters were still overshadowed by the influence of the wealthy tycoons of conventional content provider whose mindset remained unchanged in the rapid changing environment triggered by the digital revolution of communication technology, leading to an imbalanced  legal framework biased to wealthy copyright holders while ignoring the appeal of users, traders, network providers and even primary creators. Being a trader, service provider and primary creator, we genuinely respect copyright but must express to you and all people that the prevailing copyright ordinance does not benefit us and so will be the proposed amendment. Certainly it is infringing the interest of general public.

2. Fundamental Concepts Re-examined

2.1. Public Interest Vs Private Interest: 

The title of the bill itself tells that the law draftsman tended to give higher priority to the interest of copyright owners than the general public. If our society protects the minority interest because we denounce the tyranny of majority, for what reason we recognize the exception of tyranny of minority in dealing with copyright? This is inconsistent to the philosophy as always stated by the government who admits that public interest is the major concern in the process of policy making. If public interest is ranked prior to the minority interest, instead, it is more appropriate to change the title of the bill into something like "seeking to promote the public interest in the digital environment whilst maintain proper protection for copyright as an incentive to creation and invention" or "seeking a reasonable balance between the public interest and the interest of copyright owners in the digital environment". As a matter of fact, wealthy copyright owners are the hardliners and backbone of the advocates demanding for strictest copyright protection while the vulnerable class and their sympathizer are on the opposite side, thus making the copyright  protection nothing more than another exhibit of the tyranny of wealthy minority over the ordinary majority. We must ask what convince us to embrace a technological progress if it will not benefit but even harm the general public.

2.2  Public Space Vs Private Space:

In physical world, it seems that it is easy to draw a line that divides the private space and public space. However, on the internet, public space and private space are not well defined. Hardliners of copyright protection tend to see it a public space as a whole where all activities should be scrutinized and regulated like the public space in the physical world. We deny the proposition because we think that the “cyber space” is the natural extension of the physical space of human world which means that private zone should also be admitted. If our society punishes an internet user for shareing a digital file with his peer on the other side of the internet, in accordance with the same logic,  a reader will be punished if he shares a newspaper with his colleagues in the office, thus messing  up the private and public space we formerly admit in the physical world. The fear is not merely a groundless conjecture  but a real instance in the real world.  A per user levy scheme was once considered for the licensed use of a server operation system. Thinking about the huge number of spontaneous internet users logging in the server, any people will see the absurdity of the pricing policy. Probably because of the strong resentment of users and the practical problem in enforcing the licensing scheme, it has  never been the common practice for pricing the software. However, various restrictions are imposed on the transfer of ownership so as to confine the purchaser's right (the right to resell and dispose) to the purchased software. Obviously, the demand for stricter legal sanction is indeed a skillful shift  of the immense enforcement cost of an unjust pricing policy from the vendors themselves to the government or the society as a whole. 

2.3. Protection Of Copyright Vs Protection Of Income:  

With no doubt many people think that the protection of copyright is practically the protection of income of the copyright owners. Nevertheless, whether a piece of copyrighted work can be productive of income depends on a lot of factors  but not just the cost of production. All people should respect copyright but it does not mean that the society should guarantee the income of copyright owners. The lobbyers for stricter copyright control try to equate these two concepts and turn it into an institution. Being a humble member of creative industry, we fully understand the misery situation of artists on account of the attitude of most people towards creative service. For instance, up to now, many people, including the government purchasers,  still think that graphic design is and should be a free service to be provided early in bidding for a job or together with printing service.  Who care how much it costs for the provision of the service or stuff especially when free and legal stuff are really available in the real world? 

Furthermore, not all the intellectual properties bear a market value which are in fact determined by the demand for them. The calculation of damages based on the total volume of "illegal"(i.e. Unauthorized) copy or download is misleading. Firstly, the said quantity cannot be taken as the actual effective demand at the intended retail price in the light that the marginal cost for download is almost zero. There may be no valid demand at a price higher than the download cost 2. An illustration of the rationale may be found in the levy /royalty (a few to ten thousands dollars per month per premises) imposed on the retail shops for playing background music/songs in their premises. Most of the shops we know simply cut the budget for buying CD titles and adhere to the saying of "silence is gold", hence resulting in a downfall of the sales volume which manifests  a very elastic demand in response to the fee scheme. Secondly, it is hard to say if the distribution is harming or benefiting the copyright owner or not. Surely we understand the saying is controversial and ethically incorrect supposing that the distribution is against the will of the copyright owner. However, if the copyright owner is willing to pay the mass media a huge advertising fee for propagandizing the promotion trailer, the issue is just a matter of a shift of mind (or a "paradigm shift" in sociology jargon) from the traditional promotional channel to the new channel. To resolve or reconcile the conflict, to our best knowledge, many foreign artists start to earn their income from live performance and other activities that  are unable to be substituted by downloadable files while releasing the recording of their work freely on the internet. Some prominent computer firms like IBM,  HP and Oracle offer their clients with freeware but rely on their services for the generation of income. We choose to internalize the cost by spreading it into the spending of R&D or promotion.

2.4. Protection Of  Copyright Vs Limitation  Of  Circulation:

Again people lobbying for stricter copyright control seem to confuse the protection of copyright with the limitation of circulation. From years' experience and observation, we realize that copyright work may be provided free of charges for many reasons. Some creators, represented by the founders and their followers of GNU GPL licence 3 and Creative Commons licence 4, who see knowledge as public property, value not the money income but the joy of sharing and the freedom of attaining knowledge. In another case, some artists as mentioned in 2.3 may rather let their work be distributed freely in order to increase their public exposure.

2.5. Coincidence Vs Plagiarism:

Almost all the hardliners of copyright protection avoid discussing the  possibility of “coincidence of similarity”. In reality, there are numerous cases disapproving the hypothesis. Long time ago in the history when continents are isolated by geographical barriers, similar theories were developed by scholars living in separate localities simultaneously. Pythagorean Theorem was discovered by ancient Greek and Chinese mathematicians in almost the same era. The invention of calculus was claimed by both Newton and Leibniz simultaneously. Except scientific findings, artistic creation cannot be free from the controversy over the determination of originator and copycat. Many famous musicians or song writers had gotten into endless quarrels or lawsuits with each other on “plagiarism”. We have heard that musicians have an old saying, "Adam and Eve wrote the first song and everyone has ripped them off ever since." Perhaps only people who are either extremely arrogant or naive dare to claim that their idea is unique among seven billion people in the world.

The prevailing institution, however, awards as well as rewards the wealthy class or game player who knows the rule of game well which in the end gives rise to a new profession of copyright litigation. On the top of the profession is a group of knowledgeable people who deliberately registered some vague or premature ideas with the authorities for patents, then awaiting for the emergence of target prey who launches materialized products or services using similar ideas after doing a lot of research and development. On the middle level are frivolous litigators who take advantages of the complicated litigation procedure and expensive litigation cost to blackmail their target preys. On the lowest level are rascal who simply extort their victims by making false accusation with false evidence or statement. The most cynical cases can be easily found in western countries in which many renowned corporations that maintain very high profile in fighting intellectual piracy in Hong Kong and developing countries have been convicted guilty of copyright infringement in the court rooms or pleaded for off-the-court-room settlement. Should we interpret the scenario as hypocrisy or  indeterminability of intellectual property?

If these “giants of intellectual property” fail to comply with the copyright law for mixed reasons, how can the owner of a small firm be able to know the legality of every job or every piece of items he is dealing in. In a case, we still could not be sure if a torch offered by a manufacturer would be free from allegation of "infringement" to any patented design or not after having spent a whole working day to cross-examine all the records on the web site of Intellectual Property Department. we deny that our ignorance or stupidity should account for our scepticism. Frankly speaking, the overwhelming legal claims based on allegation of plagiarism made by professional lawyers have confused our common sense of imitation. Most of the cases could have only been explained by the  abuse of the defect of our judicial system. We have reasons to believe that many of the cases have been ended up with settlement in favour of the frivolous and unethical litigators off the court room. So long as the legal system is still inclined to accept plagiarism rather than coincidence in case of similarity and fails to incorporate a mechanism to deter frivolous litigators from abusing the legal procedure, mediation is not a cure for the lawsuit abuse but may be even worse. By referring to the current "payment into court" system which is a litigation fee allocation arrangement for penalizing tough or stubborn litigators unanimously regardless of the jurisdiction, including the victims of false accusation or frivolous litigation, we envisage the danger arising from the misleading message of mediation as a solution to lawsuit abuse.   

2.6. Public Property Vs Private Property:

The concept of copyright was created for awarding the contributors who make contribution to enrich the intellectual heritage of human society but reserved an enormous room for all other people to further enrich and develop the existing civilization.5  To our best understanding, copyright was originally designed for the protection of a distinctive means for  accomplishing a certain ends or a special pattern of expression for delivering a certain message. It did not prevent other people from achieving the same goal with other competing approaches.6 Moreover, unlike physical commodities or inalienable (non-rival) services, knowledge, in economic sense, once published, is by default a public good attainable to all people.7 Thus on one extreme some people insist that knowledge should be regarded as public property free for all people due to its very nature of public good while on the other extreme some people try to turn it into private property from which all the derived benefit is to be appropriated by the owner only. We tend to accept the former view with some reservation for three reasons.

2.6.1. Natural Right Of Access To The Existing Knowledge:

At first we believe that all people should have the freedom to learn and use the knowledge which has already been made known to the public. Let alone human beings, even animals learn from the behaviour of parents or peers by observation and imitation. This is not a surrealistic idea of utopian idealists but has been proved to be the source of thrust leading to the progress of human civilization. Long in the history, many great thinkers, artists and scientists have chosen to shape our world with their achievements or discoveries without any direct reward. In recent time, a prominent example for the contribution of free knowledge is the internet which is basically built on open source software such as Unix/Linux and Apache in accordance with open standard like TCP/IP and html. The success of wikipedia is another proof for the value of free knowledge (we intentionally use the information gathered mainly from wikipedia to remark on some special terms or concepts for its free licence). In addition, a lot of organizations including commercial firms like "Google" and non-commercial bodies like Mozilla Foundation, a non-profitable making body leading the project of Firefox and Thunderbird, have demonstrate a profitable or sustainable mode of operation with open source freeware. Being a small enterprise, we support freedom of using knowledge as it allows us to compete fairly with wealthy competitors with our competence in attaining and mastering new technology. Therefore, we strongly object the extension of copyright protection period once and again to refrain copyright works from entering the public domain even longer than the average life of human beings.
2.6.2. Natural Right Of Creation And Developing Knowledge Free From Interference:

Instead of using open access knowledge, it is self-explanatory and absolutely a natural right for all people to work out their own solution to accomplish a certain task along with all other people in the world. For example, except Coca Cola, there is Pepsi Cola or else beverage co-exist in the market. The flavour and taste of all these drinks (i.e. The goal or task) are similar but the formula and production process (i.e. The method or solution) are different.  We object  a system in which either "the winner takes all" or "the wealthy takes all". It seems to us that the legislation has been gradually moving in this direction under the influence of some wealthy copyright owners who are not even the primary creators but advocate a more extensive protection of copyright to cover not only the method but also the goal, thus excluding all other competitors from providing compatible solutions and messing up the competition with infringement.  The prevailing patent system, ignoring the effort and achievement of all competitors on the assumption that the registered patent owner is the first and the only one among all competitors to be awarded.  We object the restriction to fair competition in the name of copyright protection by banning all activities except that carried out by the one who happens to claims proprietary right to the solution intended for the same purpose. 

2.6.3. Freedom Of Panorama Vs Copyright Infringement: 

Freedom of panorama (FOP)8 as a fair use of copyrighted work and the protection of public space are interrelated. If a piece of copyrighted work is put in a public place but the owner claims titleship to all artworks derived from it, it is equal to a privatization of the public space. We can hardly imagine how tourism would be harmed without FOP. A tourist would not be able to take even a legal scenery picture of our harbour or street as they are occupied overwhelmingly by copyrighted objects such as  promotion signages and proprietary designed buildings.  We maintain that all public sites on internet should also be recognized as public space in the digital world and the concept of FOP should be equally applicable to the internet otherwise any web surfer will commit a crime unknowingly while caching a site he  visits. If a copyright owner really minds the public exposure of his works, simply removes it from the site accessable to the public, puts it in restricted or paid zone and protects it with copyright mark. As a humble member of creative industry, we frankly do not think that the redistribution of our works with the source of origin being kept intact will infringe our interest. On the contrary, we feel that the advantages from the externality of the widespread circulation only benefit us. Moreover, in the digital world, if copyright protection covers coding pattern down to the level of programe module performing a specific function, which is so common in computer programming analogous with everyday dialog like "thank you" or "good morning" in our daily life, all programmers will be encountering the danger of being prosecuted for copyright infringement.

Surely we do not deny that we have reservation about the above three norms. Our reservation is rooted in the practical payback problem of research and development cost for some technologies like pharmacy which accrues a very high research and development cost in terms of time, effort and money but the details of result must be disclosed to the public for some sorts of reason such as public safety, and/or the test cost being significant yet production too simple and easy to be copied. Hence we accept exceptions for some knowledge as public property. Patent, a legal arrangement for rewarding the owner who intended to grab money with the registered invention in a finite period of time by coercively enforcing the restriction of unauthorized (or unpaid) use of the knowledge, was originally an attempt to maintain a balance between the conflicted interest of individuals and general public. Nevertheless, patent is too powerful in the light that it not only restricts the specific means of achieving ends but may also bans all other purposely activities conducted via alternative approaches. Its  adverse effect on competition is more significant than common copyright protection. Being a small firm, we hope that the standard of criteria for granting patent remain strict especially in dealing with the copyright of digital products or technologies which are featured by extremely short life cycle so that healthy competition will not be hindered.
2.7. Trade Protectionism Vs Copyright Protection: 

Perhaps people demanding for stricter copyright protection have never blamed parallel import for copyright infringement but they are surely the anchorman insisting restriction of  parallel import. We cannot understand how a group of social elite can suppress the dissident view of anti-globalization with high sounding free trade theory on the one hand but advocate restriction on the parallel import especially for multimedia products on the other hand. They are indeed adopting double standard over the behaviour of multinational enterprise chief and individual consumer. If the wealthy tycoons can choose the lowest cost manufacturer in various countries to produce their products based on the beautiful theory of “Logistics” or “Global Supply Chain”, it is equally reasonable for any consumer to choose the best priced products  regardless of the country of origin. Restriction is by nature a trade barrier intended for market segregation for capturing consumer surplus irrelevant to copyright protection.   

2.8. Presumption Of Permission Vs Presumption Of Forbiddence:

Perhaps the most far-reaching adverse effect of the recent copyright protection strengthening movement initiated mainly by the tycoons of traditional media and content providers on our society is the destruction of the fundamental belief of our civic life. For a very long time the western countries has kept praising the superiority of their culture of freedom and rule of common law which adopts innocence presumption 9. A citizen may do anything if it is not forbidden by law. Our social leaders also proudly declare that our judicial system is built on the same ground and repeatedly promise to us the same beautiful world. However, the ever increasing strict copyright authorization validation requirements  have casted an absolute uncertainty over the behaviour of every entity in our society. Nobody can be sure if his action is permitted or not. As mentioned in previous section, if the "giants of copyright" who always blame the underdeveloped countries for piracy of intellectual property are even convicted guilty of copyright infringement under the jurisdiction of their judicial system, how can a humble trader or individual consumer possess the necessary knowledge and resources to verify whether a merchandise or service complies with the copyright law? Can our law makers, law professionals or law enforcing department chiefs tell us how to conduct a reliable "prior art search" 10 which can certainly free people from the terror of being accused of copyright infringement for either the coincidence of similarity or indeed frivolous claim from malicious and illicit litigators? Can they teach all people how to comprehend the details of licence written in esoteric legal jargon and verify the validity of the authorization of billions of paid or unpaid stuff either in digital or physical format available to the public so as to free all people from the fear of committing the offence of violation of the EULA (End User Licence Agreement) unintentionally? In the light that we never be sure who else in the world possessing similar ideas has claimed or will claim proprietary right formally prior to other people,  the determination of the ownership of intangible concepts can never be so clear and certain as physical goods, and the proof for the permission is practically beyond the capacity of ordinary people under the "reinforced copyright ordinance", the presumption of forbiddence will inevitably replace  presumption of permission in dealing with copyrighted materials as a self-defensive measure". In other words, all traders are assumed to be guilty except they have "perfect" information about the “prior art” as well as the proof of the authorization from the de facto ultimate owner. For the peace of mind, we simply suspend most of the retail business. Should we say that the copyright ordinance is successful in the protection of copyright or just a destruction of mutual trust of our society?

2.9. Free Culture Vs Permission Culture:

We frankly think that the manner of our law makers towards all the above mentioned contrary concepts has been biased to the wealthy copyrighted content providers in the last few decades  under the influence and pressure of the tycoons of these giants of copyright. The restriction to the fair use of intellectual property has been intensified at a faster pace especially when centre of physical production was shifting from the west to the east. As copyright is an artificial attribute of knowledge endowed by human beings, the expansion of the right preclude more people from using the knowledge regardless of their mentality. Some privileged minority may monopolize the knowledge and capture huge wealth by granting permission for the use of knowledge which they nominally owned but is not necessarily created by them. Free culture 11 which recognizes freedom of thinking as a natural human right is under the challenge of this permission culture12 established on the ground of unrestrained expansion of copyright. The proposal for building a  “central hub”  for the central regulation or filtration (censorship?) of all information passing through is a highly dangerous and selfish idea which is again an action seeking for the short term benefit of minority at the sacrifice of the long term benefit of the general public.   Needless to point out the minimal feasibility arising from the technical and financial problem of recruiting immense computing power for "filtering” (censoring) the immense data throughput, the political correctiveness behind the idea is controversial for its very nature deemed to be hazardous to free culture by common sense.

3. Defficiency Of The Prevailing Legal Framework And The Proposed Amendment:

In addition to the biased manner towards the aforesaid contrary views, the prevailing legal framework and the proposed amendment lack the following provisions for qualifying it a good law. 
3.1. Lack Of The Provision Against Frivolous Lawsuit, Abuse Of Litigation And Illegal Collection Of Evidence Like Phishing, Enticement, And False Evidence:

The problem of lawsuit abuse has long been a consequence of the institutional defect of our legal framework. Our social elites have never admitted the problem. They  always rely on the self-discipline of the law profession and claim that no evidence to prove the existence of  abuse while ignoring the fact that many of the cases are settled off the court room without a trace in the record for the immense litigation cost. Even worse is that the high legal charges was misinterpreted as a shortage  of lawyers which has ended up with a rapid increase of the enrollment of law school. In turn the increasing supply stimulates the growth of abuse of litigations as described by the famousSay's Law 13 in Economics which states that “supply creates its demand”. Then copyright protection has become one of the most convenient reasons among all for triggering a frivolous legal claim. Without prejudice to anybody, if the authority and law makers are willing to hear the voice of victims of legal blackmail, we are willing to present to them our experience and knowledge in details about how copyright owners, law professionals and private investigators can form a dream ally of perfect fraud without fear of facing any sanction by means of lawsuit abuse in case any one party of them is deceptive.

3.2 Lack Of Critical And Independent Thinking:

To our best knowledge, all the official illustrations of the current ordinance and proposed amendment only embrace the views of the wealthy tycoons of content providers without any critical and independent thinking. Paid permission (i.e. permission upon payment from user) granted by copyright owner seems to be the only way or the default form recognized by our government to acknowledge copyright. While the money incentive to the creation is emphasized, the subtle negative effect of the presumed forbiddence on the economy and the enormous social cost accrued for enforcing the protection of the overvalued copyrighted materials based on this assumption are ignored. The overstated loss of copyright infringement has never been queried.  The merits, feasibility, potential and contribution to the society of free intellectual property either in public domain or released under free licence like GPL or Creative Commons are not even mentioned. This serious bias has refrained any further exploration into the promotion of free intellectual property and its feasible mode of business.

3.3. Lack Of Recognition, Promotion  And Protection Of Free Knowledge:

If the protection of copyright is regarded as the duty of a responsible government in protecting the private property of any entity in the society, it should be her divine mandate to protect the  intellectual properties in public domain for the whole society. She should record,  organize, host  and offer them freely to the public as a preservation of the valuable common legacy of human beings.14 Moreover, for awarding generous entities who contribute their works freely to the public without asking for a penny, the government should endorse their behaviour with some kind of assistance or recognition. To our best understanding, there is neither a provision in our legal framework for the prevention of privatization of intellectual property in public domain nor a legal recognition of the licence of free intellectual property, thus hindering the acceptance and application of free knowledge. We were told by the executives of some firms that they are forbidden to use freewares without additional service pledge or warranty from the creators or third party service providers according to their code of using software. It is deemed that the liability of using freeware including but not limited to the frivolous claim for copyright infringement is one of the major reasons. We do not understand why the government is so enthusiastic in protecting the profit of some wealthy money seekers even though they may not deserve if examined through strict authentication process but reluctant to promote and encourage the use of free intellectual properties such as providing a legal waiver for the users of freeware or setting up a registration system of free stuff for the recognition and protection of the donators.

3.4. Lack Of Clarity And Simplicity For Good Law:

If clarity and simplicity are two of the many qualities of good law as mentioned in the ABC of law theory, the current copyright ordinance is hard to meet the standard. Let alone the readability problem of legal jargon, we cannot find a clear, simple and unambiguous definition of "similarity", "passing off" or "essential portion" in the ordinance. We are not informed of the source to which we can resort for the most authoritative data base for validating the copyright status. We do not know what we are allowed to do with a genuine product such as a format shift conversion even though we duly pay the money. We do not know if we should trust the oral authorization of a customer requesting for the production of a product which is claimed to be owned or designed by him. Conclusively speaking, we do not know how to comply with the ordinance.

4. Conclusion:

In the end, we emphasize that we respect copyright and private ownership. Hence we quote and credit the source of free stuff, and pay for commercial products if we choose to use them. However, we object a bad law in the sense that law abiding people do not know how to observe it and evil minded people may abuse it.

We must ask the government and our lawmakers the final question about the ultimate purpose of technological progress. If the progress brings most of our people the ever graver problems of digital divide, polarization of wealth distribution, monopolization of knowledge, fear of frivolous lawsuit, limitation of freedom in our daily life, etc., how can we be convinced to embrace the digital revolution?        

We believe that technology is neutral. All the aforesaid adverse effects are the result of an imbalance of institution biased to some privileged minority. Some other people support it because they have been misled  or misinformed. We may find thousands reasons accounting for the irrelevance between wealth and contribution. The copyright law cannot fundamentally rectify the problem shortly but on the contrary may worsen the situation if it goes  extreme. What have been proved is that the copyright law has made a lot of pop singers and media tycoons be billionaires in the last century but leave a lot of great thinkers, artists and scientists in rather common or even humble living condition. Though they may not be rich in the enjoyment of material comfort, we can be sure that they are rich in their spiritual life and will be recognized by most people to be great persons in the history. 

We should apologize for lacking the knowledge and language power to pack our opinion with rhetoric and high sounding theories as the think tank of those wealthy tycoons. Yet we are sincere. We are suffering from the deficiency of the legal framework. We see the danger of the reform or revision of copyright law if it is continuously hijacked by the privileged minority and promises too much to many people of mediocre talent who intend to make a huge fortune with their mediocre work or performance. 

- END -


1. Seminar held by the “Internet Society Hong Kong (ISOC HK)” on 28/1/2010

2. Effective Demand:
The demand schedule, depicted graphically as the demand curve, represents the amount of some good that buyers are willing and able to purchase at various prices, assuming all determinants of demand other than the price of the good in question, such as income, personal tastes, the price of substitute goods, and the price of complementary goods, remain the same. Following the law of demand, the demand curve is almost always represented as downward-sloping, meaning that as price decreases, consumers will buy more of the good.
Demand curves are determined by marginal utility curves.[2] Consumers will be willing to buy a given quantity of a good, at a given price, if the marginal utility of additional consumption is equal to the opportunity cost determined by the price, that is, the marginal utility of alternative consumption choices. The demand schedule is defined as the willingness and ability of a consumer to purchase a given product in a given frame of time.
The demand curve is generally downward-sloping. There may be rare examples of goods that have upward-sloping demand curves. Two different hypothetical types of goods with upward-sloping demand curves are Giffen goods (an inferior but staple good) and Veblen goods (goods made more fashionable by a higher price).

The GNU General Public License (GNU GPL or simply GPL) is a widely used free software license, originally written by Richard Stallman for the GNU project.
The GPL is an example of a powerful copyleft license that requires derived works to be available under the same copyleft. Under this philosophy, the GPL grants the recipients of a computer program the rights of the free software definition and uses copyleft to ensure the freedoms are preserved, even when the work is changed or added to. This is in distinction to permissive free software licenses, of which theBSD licenses are the standard examples.

4. Creative Common:
Creative Commons (CC) is a non-profit organization headquartered in San Francisco, California, United States devoted to expanding the range of creative works available for others to build upon legally and to share.[1] The organization has released several copyright-licensesknown as Creative Commons licenses for free to the public. These licenses allow creators to communicate which rights they reserve, and which rights they waive for the benefit of recipients or other creators. An easy to understand one-page explanation of rights, with associated visual symbols, explains the specifics of each Creative Commons License. This simplicity distinguishes Creative Commons from an all rights reserved copyright. Creative Commons was invented to create a more flexible copyright model, replacing "all rights reserved" with "some rights reserved." Wikipedia is one of the notable web-based projects using one of its licenses.
The organization was founded in 2001 by Larry Lessig, Hal Abelson and Eric Eldred[2] with support of the Center for the Public Domain. The first set of copyright licenses were released in December 2002.[3] In 2008 there were an estimated 130 million works licensed under Creative Commons.[4] Creative Commons is governed by a board of directors and a technical advisory board. Esther Wojcicki, journalism teacher from Palo Alto, CA, is currently the chair of the board. Creative Commons has been embraced by many as a way for content creators to take control of how they choose to share their intellectual property. There has also been criticism that it doesn't go far enough.

5. Origin of Copyright:

6. Exception and limitation of copyright:
Two important examples of limitations and exceptions to copyright are the fair use doctrine found in the United States, and the fair dealing doctrine found in many other common law countries. Other more fundamental boundaries of copyright are caused by thresholds of originality, a threshold below which objects cease to be copyrightable, the idea-expression dichotomy, the public domain and the effect of Crown copyright. Even copyright maximalists might interpret these as defining copyright, rather than being "limitations" or "exceptions" to it. In addition copyright can only protect the artist's expression of his/her work and not the ideas, systems, or factual information conveyed in it.[1] Likewise, the US court systems have determined that stock charactersare also uncopyrightable.

7. Public good /non-rival good:
In economics, a public good is a good that is non-rivalrous and non-excludable. Non-rivalry means that consumption of the good by one individual does not reduce availability of the good for consumption by others; and non-excludability that no one can be effectively excluded from using the good.[1] In the real world, there may be no such thing as an absolutely non-rivaled and non-excludable good; but economists think that some goods approximate the concept closely enough for the analysis to be economically useful.
Many forms of creative works have characteristics of public goods. For example, a poem can be read by many people without reducing the consumption of that good by others; in this sense, it is non-rivalrous. Similarly, the information in most patents can be used by any party without reducing consumption of that good by others. Creative works may be excludable in some circumstances, however: the individual who wrote the poem may decline to share it with others by not publishing it. Copyrights and patents both encourage and inhibit the creation of such non-rival goods by providing temporary monopolies, or, in the terminology of public goods, providing a legal mechanism to enforce excludability for a limited period of time. For public goods, the "lost revenue" of the producer of the good is not part of the definition: a public good is a good whose consumption does not reduce any other's consumption of that good

8. Freedom of Panorama:
Panorama freedom allows for taking pictures in public places. It is usually subject to special regulations in local copyright laws with the goal of granting reasonable freedom for photography in public space. Such laws, generally, allow photography of publicly visible buildings and non-private scenes from public places for the purposes of publishing. The actual extent of possible allowed usage of a picture taken in a public place is usually wider and depends upon the particular formulation of the law or clause that grants the possibility.

9. Presumption of Innocense:
The presumption of innocence – being considered innocent until proven guilty – is a legal right that the accused in criminal trials has in many modern countries. The burden of proof is thus on the prosecution, which has to collect and present enough compelling evidence to convince the trier of fact, who is restrained and ordered by law to consider only actual evidence and testimony that is legally admissible, and in most cases lawfully obtained, that the accused is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In case of remaining doubts, the accused is to be acquitted. This presumption is seen to stem from the Latin legal principle that ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat (the burden of proof rests on who asserts, not on who denies).

10. Prior Art Search:
Prior art (also known as state of the art, which also has other meanings, or background art), in most systems of patent law, constitutes all information that has been made available to the public in any form before a given date that might be relevant to a patent's claims of originality. If an invention has been described in prior art, a patent on that invention is not valid.
Information kept secret, for instance, as a trade secret, is not usually prior art, provided that employees and others with access to the information are under a non-disclosure obligation. With such an obligation, the information will typically not be regarded as prior art. Therefore, a patent may be granted on an invention, although someone else already knew of the invention. A person who used an invention in secret may in some jurisdictions be able to claim "prior user rights" and thereby gain the right to continue using the invention. As a special exception, earlier-filed and unpublished patent applications do qualify as prior art as of their filing date in certain circumstances.
In order to anticipate a claim, prior art is generally expected to provide a description sufficient to inform an average worker in the field (or the person skilled in the art) of some subject matter falling within the scope of the claim. Prior art must be available in some way to the public, and in many countries, the information needs to be recorded in a fixed form somehow. Prior art generally does not include unpublished work or mere conversations (though according to the European Patent Convention, oral disclosures also form prior art). It is disputed whether traditional knowledge (e.g., of medical properties of a certain plant) constitutes prior art.
Patents disclose to society how an invention is practiced, in return for the right (during a limited term) to exclude others from manufacturing, selling, offering for sale or using the patented invention without the patentee's permission. Patent offices deal with prior art searches in the context of the patent granting procedure. To assess the validity of a patent application, patent offices explore the prior art that was disclosed before the invention occurred (in the United States) or before the filing date (in the rest of the world).

11. Free Culture:
The free culture movement is a social movement that promotes the freedom to distribute and modify creative works in the form of Free content by using the Internet and other forms of media.
The movement objects to overly restrictive copyright laws. Many members of the movement argue that such laws hinder creativity. They call this system "permission culture".
Creative Commons is a well-known website which lists licenses that permit free sharing under various conditions. Creative Commons, which was started by Lawrence Lessig, also offers an online search of various creative-commons-licensed productions.
The free culture movement, with its ethos of free exchange of ideas, is of a whole with the free software movement. Richard Stallman, the founder of the GNU project, and free software activist, advocates free sharing of information. He famously stated free software means free as in “free speech,” not “free beer.”
Today, the term stands for many other movements, including hacker computing, the access-to-knowledge movement and the Copyleft movement.
The term “free culture” was originally the title of a 2004 book by Lawrence Lessig, a founding father of free culture movement.

12. Permission Culture:
Permission culture is a term often employed by Lawrence Lessig and other copyright activists to describe a society in which copyright restrictions are pervasive and enforced to the extent that any and all uses of copyrighted works need to be explicitly leased. This has both economic and social implications: in such a society, copyright holders could require payment for each use of a work and, perhaps more importantly, permission to make any sort of derivative work.
Permission culture also refers to the mentality (assumed to be encouraged by copyright law) in which people feel that there is a moral obligation to ask for permission before sharing others' work, or before re-using existing work as part of some new work.
This term is often contrasted with remix culture.

13. Say's Law:
Supply will always create its own demand with one caveat at a certain price level. Think about it like this if you sold MP3 players eventually the price would get so low that the scrap metal value in them would be worth the price and they would all be liquidated. And if for example the firm had more money invested in its inventory than could be recovered by selling the inventory then bankruptcy court would take care of that for them. Say's Law!

14. Public Domain Intellectual Properties:
The public domain is an intellectual property designation for the range of content that is not owned or controlled by anyone. These materials are "public property", and available for anyone to use freely (the "right to copy") for any purpose. The public domain can be defined in contrast to several forms of intellectual property; the public domain in contrast to copyrighted works is different from the public domain in contrast to trademarks or patented works. Furthermore, the laws of various countries define the scope of the public domain differently, making it necessary to specify which jurisdiction's public domain is being discussed.
The public domain is most often discussed in contrast to works whose use is restricted by copyright. Under modern law, most original works of art, literature, music, etc. are covered by copyright from the time of their creation for a limited period of time (which varies by country). When the copyright expires, the work enters the public domain. It is estimated that currently, of all the books found in the world's libraries, only about 15% are in the public domain, even though only 10% of all books are still in print; the remaining 75% are books which remain unavailable because they are still under copyright protection.
The public domain can also be defined in contrast to trademarks. Names, logos, and other identifying marks used in commerce can be restricted as proprietary trademarks for a single business to use. Trademarks can be maintained indefinitely, but they can also lapse through disuse, negligence, or widespread misuse, and enter the public domain. It is possible, however, for a lapsed trademark to become proprietary again, leaving the public domain.
The public domain also contrasts with patents. New inventions can be registered and granted patents restricting others from using the inventions without permission from the inventor. Like copyrights, patents last for a limited period of time, after which the inventions covered by them enter the public domain and can be used by anyone.
The governments of western countries always cooperate with educational institutes and museums in collecting, recording, organizing, hosting and offering the public domain intellectual properties to the general public. For instance, in the USA, the Library of Congress, National Park Service, Census Bureau,  National Defence Department, NASA, etc are providing various public domain intellectual properties to the public for almost unrestricted use.


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temporal law