Consulate General of the United States Hong Kong and Macau
Dear Mr. Hart,
Stop Supporting Copyright (Amendment) Bill
We wish the United States of America would stop supporting the Copyright (Amendment) Bill now being debated at the Hong Kong Legislative Council. Because this bill, once passed, will stifle middle- and small-sized enterprises and budding artists in Hong Kong; it will also be used as a weapon by the Hong Kong Communist Government to suppress local activists’ online resistance.
In the Nineteenth Century, the States extensively copied European products and infringed on their copyrights, such as reprinting European books. Harvard University itself was a pirated version of Cambridge University. It was not until mid-twentieth Century, when American universities and scientific researches were well-developed, that copyrights of both sides were fairly handled.
Hong Kong’s industries are not yet so developed as to be able to export copyrights to the United States. We should be most grateful if the United States would tolerate the not too serious phenomenon of piracy in Hong Kong, so that young Hong Kong entrepreneurs and young Hong Kong artists can accumulate fame and capital. Moreover, sometimes, secondary creations would help promote the original products. For example, when people share on Facebook videos of their singing of an American song, it will advertize the original song.
Equally importantly, copyright law involves the issue of corporate rights against individual rights. Now, most mainstream media in Hong Kong are either directly or indirectly financed by Communist China. The only place Hongkongers can widely voice their grievances and protest is the internet. To protect freedom of speech, the copyright law in USA includes the provision of fair use, which, alas, is absent in its Hong Kong counterpart. The United States, as a major power upholding freedom, should not help the Hong Kong Communist Government to suppress local freedom of speech on the net by way of the Copyright Amendment Bill.
We are aware that your Excellency has lobbied the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong and pan-democracy Hong Kong law-makers to support the Copyright (Amendment) Bill. Please let Hong Kong off the hook; otherwise Hongkongers’ time-honored fondness for the States will change into aversion.
Prof. Wan Chin of Hong Kong has launched a petition to the Whitehouse, namely, Stop Supporting Copyright (Amendment) Bill. Up till 3 am 4th January 2015, 60,000 signatures have been gathered, which shows Hongkonger’s serious concern about the Bill. But then the petition was removed by the US without giving specific grounds. We protest against the US for closing its ear to Hong Kong public opinion. Below please find the link and contents of the petition.
We wish the USA could distinguish between American copyright interest and political impact abroad. The Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2014, now undergoing its 2nd reading at the Hong Kong Legislative Council, has made many Hongkongers fear that the passing of the bill without the fair-use principle will greatly restrict their right to freedom of expression via circulating pictures and video clips for political protests. But the American Chamber of Commerce in HK, upon Consul General Hart’s lobbying, has openly supported it. We wish USA could stop supporting the bill. Or Hongkongers’ age-old fondness for USA as a stronghold for freedom will turn into antipathy.
Thank you very much for your attention.
Chapman Chen, Ph.D.
Spokesman, Net Freedom Defense League