My Translation of the article “Promote WTO? Why not Free Culture"

This is an article I believe is worthy of reading by all intellectual. It is published today Mingpao(an intellectual/middle-class newspaper) at Commentary section. The author is an Assistant Professor in Laing Nam University(in the district I live). This article is licensed under Creative Common, anyone is free to publish this without any modification for non-commercial purpose.

Is that true one would losing one’s intelligence by watching TV too much? Or become narrow-minded? It may not be an accurate description in general, but I can’t agree more with that when we what TV refer to is an advertisement from Government. Take the promotional commercial for WTO meeting for instance, Choice and Cheap actually become a summarily judgement of WTO’s effect, that is even the Free-Trade proponents found it disgusting. Is that representing the government’s perspective that its citizen is narrow-minded? Or those civil servants experience a brain drain?
The way HKSARG ‘globalize’ itself is by following the nose of WTO. In one of the question in the recent HKAL public examination of liberal education of the topic ‘Hong Kong Study’, we have a question concerning WTO:What benefit does WTO agreement/treaty confer to HK? What challenge does it pose to HK? The one who propose this question in the examination is at least thinking deeper about the issue than ‘Cheaper and Choice’, although it reveal the same style of thinking since they both assume that WTO MUST be something good for HK society.
This knowingly vague positive altitude at least wouldn’t create a big problem in itself. However, if we unquestionably treating ‘Free-Trade’ as a standard, or even thinking of exceeding it, that is not much different from some female want to beat the anorexic model for their body, why wouldn’t they starve themselves to death?
Take ‘Intellectual Property’ as an example, there are many vivid incident to demonstrate how much HK exceed the standard. The vice-chairperson of IP Department in HK is proud of proclaiming that even as early as 1997 that the copyright law has already extended to Internet, which surprise the WIPO president Dr. Bogsch. (Internet wasn’t popular until 1998 in HK) And recently HKSARG plan to further extend the responsibility and penalty of copyright violation to non-commercial organization and end-user, i.e. Many teachers may charged with criminal offense by broadcasting a movie for educational purpose, wouldn’t it make HK the First of the World? What is more interesting is that TRIPS(WTO agreement concerning IP) only demand signatory to promise prosecuting those copyright violation involve substantial commercial gain. Thus it follow the logic that HKSARG consider the recent case of BT-uploader charged in TM district court (My district) involve substantial commercial gain. (Notice that HKSARG pick someone UNEMPLOYED and UNABLE to defend himself in court, and Legal Aid Department is part of HKSARG), therefore it must be worthy to spending huge resource to ‘exceed’ the common standard for globalization of HK. (That also refer to P2P Monitor Group setup by IP Department which monitor the Internet 24 hr for BT activity.)
There was a statistic a few weeks ago revealing that over half of HK has no habit of reading (Excluding me, I keep the highest record of book borrowed by any HK citizen), that halve should also include those lazy brain civil servant who only know IP-Protection is promoted by an international agent without regarding the question raised about the existing system in many countries not limiting to Anti-Globalization Activists and also including the view from business and legal profession.
Last year one of the tenth Book of the Choice selected in Businessweek including one known as ‘Free Culture’. This book does not teach you on how to be rich, rather it criticize those Big Business who ‘Protect the IP at all price’ (Including hiring hacker to hijack P2P network by RIAA), the author is not an radical but
Professor Lawrence Lessig from a Legal Academy of Standford University. This book talk about the Legal and Policy issue involving Internet and copyright, even including something surprisingly similar to the government commercial in HK but at a much higher intellectual ground. I found many of them inspiring. Here is one of them I pick:
There is an odd interpretation concerning land ownership by today’s standard: Landlord own not just the surface of the land, but extending from the center of the Earth to the outermost atmosphere, and even including space! Such an interpretation has not much effect in daily life except in the realm of ideas until 1945 when a farmer from North Caroline complain that the US Airforce’s low altitude flying aircraft has cause death of many chickens as they are scare by the presence of planes, and sue US Government for Property Damage.
In the summary judgement by a High Court Judge, he point out that the sky belong to the public, so if the farmer has a case for property damage that he should seek compensation of anything other than ‘Private Property Damage’. You can imagine what would happen if that farmer has win the case in High Court, from this point on every landlord would be charging any flying object for ‘Trespassing Private Property’.
How much is those Big Media’s ‘Protect the IP at all price’ behavior similar to that farmer? The copyright of their product including not just the original but any copies circulating in any medium in any form. What they are different from the farmer is that they have money to hire lawyer and buy politician, thereby fulfilling their unsatisfiable appetite for copyright of all form anywhere.
Big Media doesn’t care about ‘Free Culture’, they only care about how far they can extend the scope of copyright protection, and the profit generate by that. It is still within the boundary of acceptable behavior when it is utilizing its own resource for this goal, but what about HKSARG ‘s behavior of using taxpayer’s money to cooperating with this goal by extending the scope of criminalization in order to ‘exceed the global standard’?
In the strictest sense of the word, Dr.
Lessig isn’t against Globalization. However, he does concern about whether the creator or author of copyrighted work get their fair share of reward. So, he work with a group of people who also concern about the unrestricted flow of information on the Internet, including some Japan enterprises, Legal Professionals, Creators and scholars, to created another licensing model known as Creative Common ( Just by merely taking look at the name, one would get a feeling of World Communism. This system allow the author/creator to choose which part of the copyright to give up and which part is reserve, so to promote the free flow of information. For example: If you wrote a sing, you can sell it to somebody else for commercial purpose while let other to download it for free for non-commercial purpose, thus some Netizen could download and spread your song. Of course, selling it to Big Music companies is not an option since it violate the license.
Commoncreative now has the involvement of at least 30 different district, and we also had many similar grass-root alternative of globalization movement. Does HKSARG plan to use taxpayer money for the promotion of this alternative style of globalization from the grass-root? None. In the Chinese world, both Taiwaness Central Research Institute and PRC’s People University are participating in this scheme, which is what a so-called International city of Hong Kong absence in such an event. How ironic is HK when it is ‘exceeding the standard’ in the game of Globalization led by Big Enterprise?
We could also observe this altitude toward WTO meeting. At one side, HKSARG use popular stars and cell phone for the promotion of this meeting while instilled fear into public’s mind by demonizing the demonstrator against WTO by portrait them as troublemaker and anarchist. HKSARG seems to forgot that those demonstrator are also tourist, and they are also a group of highly mobile people. HKSARG is unable to face them in a Psychological level, and living with a Third world peasant mindset which know only the globalization as defined by Big Enterprise, unable to accept the coming of Age of Free-Culture, which is also a part of globalization.


Comments: None of media in HK go any length to explain the cause of Anti-Globalization, even those who literally speak the grass-root language. And the only speak its mind newspaper is a Super-Right Wing, in its editorial it thanks US for invading Iraq! In the incident of the Link, none of the newspaper spare a single column to explain the argument of the one sue to stop the Privatization of Public Property. And right after HKSARG win the law suit the worst scenario has happened: The Link has raise the rent for the renter. Who still remember to uphold the sense of social justice? I had written five times against the BT case challenging every aspect of its action. If I ever had any financial resource I would challenge the legality of this action. Apparently, the legality of government action is not as important as to win favor with Big Enterprise. No, this would not happen when universal suffrage is at hand, the so-called Communist Party in China is the WORST example capitalism


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