20 April 2009

Another Reason Copyright is Evil

Usually, I attack copyright on very general grounds - it's a monopoly, it's locking up knowledge, blah-blah-blah. But here's a new one to add to the list: it can endanger freedom of expression.

Given the way in which copyright law was transplanted into China without a fulsome cultural understanding of the values that informed the system, it seems the power of copyright can be easily usurped for means that infringe on political and civil rights. And yet, the United States, through the WTO process, is seeking stronger copyright protection in China.

This seeming inconsistency may not currently be a large issue because of the more explicit means of control available to the Chinese government. However, as political pressure mounts on the human rights front, it is possible that the Chinese government may have to be more covert in their attempts to suppress political speech. If that happens, copyright law may begin to look appealing to the Chinese government as a means of control.

Put it in your diaries...

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