Final Project – Introduction

 ipdepartment

While Mainland is constantly being criticised for not respecting copyright, Hong Kong has passed a number of new laws against different kinds of copyright infringement since the handover. However, there are huge controversies over the introductions of new copyright laws, particularly in photocopying and file sharing on the internet.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Final Project – File Sharing on the Internet

 Poster

In 2006, a person, nicknamed “Wicked King” on the internet, was sentenced to 3 months imprisonment. He was convicted of sharing several copyrighted movies on the internet for others to download through the BitTorrent programme without the authorisations from the copyright owners. It is the world’s first conviction of a person for distributing infringing copies of movies using the programme.

This judgment marks a new page on Hong Kong’s copyright protection in the digital environment. It is now certain that other online users might face similar criminal charges if they share copyrighted materials on the internet without the consent from the copyright owners, under section 118(1)(f) and 119(1) of the Copyright Ordinance.

However, this does not deter some Hong Kong internet users from infringing copyright on the internet. “Seeds” of songs and movies can still be found in various forums such as uwants.com.

uwants Seeds of various songs on uwants.com

Some people continue to upload copyrighted music videos and television programmes on Youtube.

youtube Group members share music videos on Youtube.

Since the laws currently only deal with people who upload the copyrighted files, the downloaders can still enjoy free downloads on the internet, unless the copyright owners file civil actions against them.

To better protect copyright against illegal file sharing on the internet, the government introduced the Copyright Amendment Bill 2006 to the Legislative Council in March 2006. The Commerce, Industry and Technology Bureau expects the passage of the Bill to be secured within the 2006-07 legislative year.

In addition to the Bill, the Government is now seeking public views on strengthening copyright protection in digital environment by issuing the “Copyright Protection in the Digital Environment Consultation Document”. The consultation period will end before May.

Joseph Wong, Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology, said in a press release that the consultation paper aims to seek advice on providing better copyright protection on the internet. The government suggests in the Document that not only the uploaders will face criminal charges, downloaders of copyright materials might also be charged for copyright infringement. The use of copyrighted photos or graphics on the internet might also attract criminal liabilities.

Many of the Hong Kong online citizens are not happy with the government’s series of actions. Adam Lee, who occasionally downloads songs and movies on the internet, said, “I will probably stop downloading files from the internet if it becomes a criminal offence. Internet is a place designed for free interaction and communication. Strict regulations will only defeat such purposes.”

Kenji Cheng, another online citizens who also has the practice of downloading copyrighted files, said, “it is very obvious that the government only concerns about the interest of big companies. If we are not making money out of it, I don’t think we should be criminally liable.”

It also creates fierce debates in different forums, such as the Hong Kong Discuss Forum and Hong Kong Golden Forum. The Hong Kong Discuss Forum even dedicates a whole section for discussion about the amendment and consultation.

The forums’ users express their concerns about potential criminal charges. Some of them think that the government is only protecting the benefits of companies while neglecting the importance of free flow of information. Some acknowledge that copyright infringement is not right, however, the government should not criminalise the downloading of copyrighted files.

While the movie and music industries are the strong advocates of the Amendment, some forum users think that people should not respect their copyrights since most of the film makers and song writers just copy the ideas from other countries. Forum users generally support the “public domain” idea and are against the introduction of criminal offence. Some users of the Hong Kong Golden Forum even plan to demonstrate on the streets to express their oppositions to the government’s actions.

Whether the Amendment Bill will be secured is still uncertain. However, it is certain that all the parties are finding new ways to cope with the new area of copyright protection. Should the government introduce new laws to protect copyright in the digital environment? Or should the copyright owners find their own ways to survive on the internet without legal protections?

Leave a comment

Filed under Project

Final Project – Photocopying

Although photocopying copyrighted materials without authorisations from the copyright owners has always been regarded as infringement of copyright, and might attract both civil and criminal liabilities under the existing Copyright Ordinance, it was not until in 2004 that the government introduced a specific offence to specifically deter such activities.

The copyshop offence took effect on 1st September, 2004 under S.119A of the Copyright Ordinance, which targets the profit-making copyshops with regard to their business in photocopying copyrighted materials, such as textbooks.

According to the Intellectual Property Department, “a person would be criminally liable if, for the purpose of or in the course of a copying service business, he possesses an infringing reprographic copy of a copyright work as published in a book, magazine or periodical.”

The Department also states that the offence is introduced to facilitate prosecution against illegal reproduction of copyrighted materials, since the old version requires the prosecution “to prove the making of an infringing copy by a copyshop”.

The maximum penalty of the conviction of copyshop offence is HK$50,000 fine per infringing copy and 4 years imprisonment.

Photocopying textbooks is a common practice in the universities in Hong Kong. There are a number of copyshops around the University of Hong Kong. Before the introduction of the copyshop offence, many students would ask the copyshops to photocopy the whole textbooks. After the offence has taken effect, the copyshops have become more cautious about their business activities.

copyshop One of the many copyshops near the HKU.

The copyshop offence reinforces the copyright protection for the authors and publishers. However, some think that it leans too much towards the copyright owners. An owner of a copyshop near the University of Hong Kong, who does not want to be identified, admits that officers from the Customs and Exercise Department have searched the shop several times. They are now more careful in ensuring the customers are indeed students and only photocopy a portion of the books at a time.

Some of the students also do not welcome the offence. Vivien Wong, a student from the University of Hong Kong, said, “the offence causes a lot of inconveniences. When I want to photocopy the whole book, I have to secretly do it myself.” She also thinks that with so many textbooks the students have to buy for the courses, the financial burden on the students could be very heavy if they are not allowed to photocopy some of the books. “I think the publishers should lower the prices”.

Den, an assistant of the University Bookstore at the University of Hong Kong, understands the heavy financial burden on the students. She said, “I don’t think photocopying the whole textbooks is acceptable, however, I do believe that professors should not require the students to buy so many books.”

To ease the financial burden on students, teachers and professors might consider photocopying some of the materials for the students. Most of the educational institutions in Hong Kong have entered into licence agreements with licensing bodies such as the Hong Kong Reprographic Rights Licensing Society (HKRRLS) for making multiple copies of copyrighted materials for teaching purposes. The Intellectual Property Department has issued “Guidelines on Photocopying of Printed Works by Not-for-Profit Educational Establishments”. According to the guidelines,

  • “2% of the number of pages can be copied for one course in a calendar month.”
  • “5% of the number of pages can be copied for one course in an academic year.”

If the law is to balance the interests of different parties, the questions to ask are, “does the current Copyright Ordinance favours the copyright owners too much?” “Or does it help encourage publishing innovative ideas and knowledge?”

Leave a comment

Filed under Project

9.1 Project Materials

First of all, I would like to place my project under the “social issues” section of the website instead of the “economy” section, since I would like to focus my project on the conflicts between the copyright owners and copyright infringers.

Infringement of copyright could attract both civil and criminal actions. In the past 10 years, there have not been many major changes in the civil copyright laws. Hence, I would focus on the criminal laws that are related to the copyright issues, while also deal with some of the civil elements.

Photocopying

For the photocopying section, the photocopying shops owners might face criminal charges, if he or she commits any of the following acts under section 118(1) of the Copyright Ordinance:

(1) A person commits an offence if he, without the licence of the copyright owner-
(a) makes for sale or hire;
(b) imports into Hong Kong otherwise than for his private and domestic use;
(c) exports from Hong Kong otherwise than for his private and domestic use;
(d) possesses for the purpose of, in the course of, or in connection with, any trade or business with a view to committing any act infringing the copyright; (Amended 64 of 2000 s. 7)
(e) for the purpose of, in the course of, or in connection with, any trade or business- (Amended 64 of 2000 s. 7)
(i) sells or lets for hire;
(ii) offers or exposes for sale or hire;
(iii) exhibits in public; or
(iv) distributes; or
(f) distributes (otherwise than for the purpose of, in the course of, or in connection with, any trade or business) to such an extent as to affect prejudicially the owner of the copyright, (Amended 64 of 2000 s. 7)
an infringing copy of a copyright work.

While for the people who take copyrighted materials to the shops for photocopying, he or she might face the criminal charges under the same section if he or she photocopies the materials to make money.

However, if a person only photocopies the materials for personal use, for instance, students photocopying books for revisions, the copyrighted owners can sue that person through civil actions under section 22 and 23 of the Copyright Ordinance.

S.22

(1) The owner of the copyright in a work has, in accordance with the following provisions of this Division, the exclusive right to do the following acts in Hong Kong-
(a) to copy the work

S.23

(1) The copying of the work is an act restricted by the copyright in every description of copyright work; and references in this Part to copying and copies are construed as follows.
(2) Copying of a work means reproducing the work in any material form. This includes storing the work in any medium by electronic means.

File sharing on the internet

In 2006, a person, nicknamed “Wicked King” on the internet, was sentenced to 3 months imprisonment for sharing several copyrighted movies on the internet for others to download through the BitTorrent p2p programme, without the authorisations from the copyright owners.

Since then, other online users might face similar criminal charges if they share copyrighted materials on the internet without the consent from the copyright owners, under the following ordinances:

S.118(1)(f) Copyright Ordinance (introduced in 2000 to deal with the new ways of copyright infringement on the internet)

(1) A person commits an offence if he, without the licence of the copyright owner-
(f) distributes (otherwise than for the purpose of, in the course of, or in connection with, any trade or business) to such an extent as to affect prejudicially the owner of the copyright, (Amended 64 of 2000 s. 7)

S.119(1)

(1) A person who commits an offence under section 118(1) is liable on conviction on indictment to a fine at level 5 in respect of each infringing copy and to imprisonment for 4 years.

In March 2006, the government introduced the Copyright Amendment Bill 2006, which aims to “To further improve Hong Kong’s copyright protection and copyright exemption
regimes”, to the Legislative Council.

In December, the Government sought public views on strengthening copyright protection in digital environment by issuing a consultation paper on copyright protection. It is the second phase of the government’s review of the Copyright Ordinance following the introduction of the Copyright (Amendment) Bill.

Joseph Wong, Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology, said in a press release that the consultation paper aims at providing better copyright protection on the internet. The Amendment will widen the scope of criminal liabilities of file sharing on the internet. Not only the uploaders will face criminal charges, downloaders of copyright materials might also be charged for copyright infringement. The use of copyrighted photos or graphics on the internet might also attract criminal liabilities.

Many of the Hong Kong online citizens are not happy with the government’s series of actions. It creates hot debates on different forums, such as the Hong Kong Discuss Forum and Hong Kong Golden Forum. The Hong Kong Discuss Forum even dedicates a whole section for discussion about the Amendment and Consultation.

Many of the forums’ users express their concerns about potential criminal charges. Some of them think that the government is only protecting the benefits of companies while neglecting the importance of free flow of information. Some acknowledge that copyright infrigement is not right, however, the government should not make it a criminal offence. While the movie and music industries are the strong advocates of the Amendment, some people think that people should not respect their copyrights since most of the film makers and song writers just copy the ideas from other countries. In general, users from these forums support the “public domain” idea and against the introduction of criminal offence.

Some users of the Hong Kong Golden Forum even plan to demostrate on the streets to express their oppositions to the government’s actions.

Format

I think I will follow the New York Times format in reporting copyright issues, such as “China Says U.S. Complaint Won’t Solve Piracy”, and “Schmidt says YouTube ‘very close’ to filtering system”. It will mostly be text-based. If there is any audio interview or graphic, it will be placed near to the paragraph which relates to it.

I have learned from reading James Foust’s “Writing and Editing Online” chapter in his book Online Journalism – Principles and Practices of News for the Web, that although the many of the online journalisms are mostly text-based, it is important to exploit the internet’s potential. Foust suggested some layering features, which I find
very useful in my project. I would divide the project into 2 big “chunks”, the photocopying section and the file sharing on the internet section and some smaller “chunks” within the big “chunks” , so as to make the project easier to follow. As the 2 sections can be read independently, by layering the project in this way can “truly take advantage of the Internet’s nonlinear capabilities”, as suggested by Foust.

Apart from some other text-formatting features in Mindy McAdams’s “Writing for the Web”, I have also learned from the website on how to write a good “chunk”.  I will definitely refer to the website when I start writing for the content of the project.

Leave a comment

Filed under Assignment, Project

8.1 Project Design

James Foust pointed out in his book “Online Journalism – Principles and Practices of News for the Web”, that as we are producing online journalism rather than an art piece, “we don’t need to know a lot about innovative or envelop-pushing design theories; we simply need to learn ways to effectively present journalistic content.”

I totally agree with him. Although we are not expected to write a blog with very high artistic value, it is important to catch the viewers’ attention as soon as they see the webpage. So I I have to think very carefully about how I can best illustrate my project by using different media types.

I will first break down my project into 2 sections, one is online copyright issue while another is issues regarding photocopying. I think these are the areas in copyright that most people would be interested or even likely to violate. Then I will further break down the sections into current situation in Hong Kong and people’s opinions regarding the issues. I include the people’s opinions section because I think it is important to give others a chance to speak for themselves in a journalistic work. I will stick to the “unity” and “contrast” rules suggested by Foust when designing the layout of the sections.

The overall layout would be quite traditional, just like the nytimes.com. Although it might not be as interesting and colourful as some other websites, like the espn.com, I think it is important to give viewers an impression of seriousness as copyright issues is quite a serious topic.

Mindy McAdams explained the characteristics and usages of different media types in “Online Media Types” and “Using Online Media Types” respectively. I believe I can decide whether a media type is suitable for my project or not based on Mindy’s suggestions.

Text

My project would be text-based. It is because I think it is the best way to report the laws and legal requirements is through words. I will also include various links in the project, such as the links to the websites that allow copyrighted file sharing, and people’s opinions on different websites or forums.

Photos and Graphics

It is really difficult to find some relevant photos for my project, so I don’t think photos will be the dominant part of my project. Perhaps I will try to take some photos about people photocopying copyrighted materials. I will also “screen-cap” some webpages, such as uwants.com and youtube.com, where people upload copyrighted songs and videos for others to listen or watch freely.

Audio or Video?

I will include the interviews of people who have the habits of downloading files or photocopying copyrighted materials in the audio format. I think people will be more likely to do the interview when they know their face will not be shown, especially when they know they are violating the rules. People, especially photocopying shop owners, are now more cautious about the consequence of violating copyright. However, for the copyright experts or people suffering from copyright violations, such as book store owners, I think it is practical to interview them in video. I think they will be interested in voicing out their opinions and not afraid to be recognised.

Interaction

As I have mentioned before, I will include the people’s opinions part in both sections. Hence, I think it is necessary to create an interactive platform for viewers to talk about what they think of the issues. Foust stated in his book that “the key is that the user is actually involved in the information and thus is not only more interested bu more informed.” He also suggested that “interactivity allows users to actually contribute to the story, adding their points of view to the existing information.” I think he made a very good point. I will include a web interface discussion section in my project, which allows viewers to express their views on both the issues and the project. I hope it will be moderated to avoid any foul materials post on the webpage, nevertheless, it depends on the manpower we have in our project team.

1 Comment

Filed under Assignment, Project

7.2 Interview with Ann

 Ann This is Ann. I took this picture when I interviewed her.

Ann, one of my classmates in the MJ course, is working on a project about Hong Kong elderly. She thinks the Hong Kong society is very complex. There are various reports on the difficulties which the
younger generation faces everyday, for instance, young people cannot deal with their lives and commit suicide. On the other hand,
Hong Kong elderly still live life to the fullest regardless of the situation, and work very hard for the society. She said many of the hard labour jobs are taken by the elderly, such as dish-washing and  street cleaning. She is interested in knowing how the old people live their lives.

This is a photo taken by Ann. It shows the old man was doing some sort of hard-labour work.

She believes that it would be very interesting for her to do further research and look into
the current situation on Hong Kong elderly in the society. I think that will be a very interesting project, since there are not many people care about old people in Hong Kong. I do believe they deserve more respect
and concern from the public. I hope that people’s awareness of old people will be raised after reading Ann’s project.

You can hear what she talks about her project by clicking the following podomatic picture and click the “interview with Ann” link on that webpage:

1 Comment

Filed under Assignment

7.1 Audio Test

Leave a comment

Filed under Assignment