Could US Copyright Agenda In China Help Stifle Speech?

from the sure-seems-that-way dept

We've discussed recently some of the basic conflicts between the First Amendment and copyright law. The First Amendment, of course, bars Congress from making any law that restricts the freedom of speech, and copyright law does, in many ways, restrict the use of speech. I'm going to have much more to say on this issue shortly, but Michael Scott recently pointed us to a related issue, about how the ongoing attempts of the US to push China into implementing stricter copyright law, which may actually aid the Chinese government in stamping out political dissent (something that the US also claims it's against). The article discusses how western nations have often explained away the conflict between copyright and free speech: a clear distinction between idea and expression (though, many question this) and a strong fair use defense. However, the article points out that the way China is looking at copyright laws, these don't appear to be much of a factor. Now, the Chinese government certainly doesn't care, as they've never been big advocates of free speech. But, for the US, policymakers should be aware that in pushing for stronger copyright enforcement, they may be handing the gov't a tool to crack down on dissent and free speech.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), May 29th, 2009 @ 6:38pm

    Yup

    Copyright is a limitation on free speech, without a doubt, and should be used VERY sparingly as a result. Unless you're an oligarchy. Or China.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2009 @ 6:38pm

    I doubt a government that is willing to park tanks on their citizens will really care about using copyright to restrict speech, although that is a bit less obvious.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2009 @ 6:42pm

    So I'm noticing a disturbing trend. Is Michael Scott the new source for all Techdirt articles?

    Christ, I thought you were better than that.

     

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  4.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), May 29th, 2009 @ 6:51pm

    Re:

    No, I've been the source for a couple :)

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2009 @ 6:54pm

    I would expect to see Michael Scott at a Masnick seminar near you some time soon.

    It's annoying to point to a tweet, especially when it is only a link to the story anyway. Why not just mention his name and then link to the actual story?

    Anyway, China doesn't need the US's help to block or surpress things, they know how to do it all by themselves.

     

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  6.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), May 29th, 2009 @ 6:54pm

    Re:

    So I'm noticing a disturbing trend. Is Michael Scott the new source for all Techdirt articles?

    I'm confused. Why is it bad that we're using one of the most respected internet/IP law professors out there as a source for interesting articles? He's certainly not the source of all our stories, but he finds so much good stuff. What do you expect us to do? Ignore good stories because it comes from such a well respected expert?

     

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  7.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), May 29th, 2009 @ 6:59pm

    Re:

    I would expect to see Michael Scott at a Masnick seminar near you some time soon.

    I doubt it. Never spoken to the guy. But I still can't figure out what your problem is with Prof. Scott?

    It's annoying to point to a tweet, especially when it is only a link to the story anyway. Why not just mention his name and then link to the actual story?

    Because, apparently unlike you, I like to give credit to those who help point us to interesting stories.

    You, on the other hand (as some people probably don't know) run sites that scrape content from a bunch of other sites (including Techdirt) and you do your best to *avoid* giving credit.

    I guess I can see why it would upset when you come across people who actually think it's a good idea to be polite and give credit where credit is due, since apparently that's so antithetical to your way of life. Is it so upsetting to you to find out that it's ok to give credit to others?

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2009 @ 7:16pm

    Re: Re:

    No Mike, he's a good source, and like you, watch his Twitter feed daily. I appreciate you willingness to bring him to the forefront of some of the battles we see today but and worry that his view of Purples and Blues may color how we see Orange and Yellows.

    You will definitely loose us that way. Hey, when can I see a big, two page block of text from you? I'm waiting.

    I have the 3 pager waiting, to be attributed to the "Wizard of Oz". Why not use the Blink tag in your CSS file. It's quite easy.

     

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  9.  
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    Doctor Strange, May 29th, 2009 @ 7:23pm

    Re: Re:

    You, on the other hand (as some people probably don't know) run sites that scrape content from a bunch of other sites (including Techdirt)

    I guess anonymous cowards aren't so anonymous on Techdirt.

    Hmmm....

    "We've pointed out in the past how silly it is to be worried about various spam/scraper sites that take content from sites (including ours) and repost it on their own. Those sites never add any real value, but just repost the content. They get no significant traffic and retain no real audience. They tend to come and go pretty quickly. Worrying about them is a total waste of time (time that can be used making sure your own site is more valuable)."

     

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  10.  
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    moz, May 29th, 2009 @ 7:37pm

    love the ambiguity

    aid the Chinese government in stamping out political dissent (something that the US also claims it's against Do you mean the US govt is against the stamping out of political dissent? Or that they're against political dissent? There's good evidence for both claims, so I think your ambiguity is accurate as well as amusing. But copyright law is in direct opposition to free speech, that's the whole point. So the idea that using copyright against free speech is not a bug, it's a feature. Politics doesn't come into it, this is about business. If the Chinese govt gets excited about using it to suppress dissent that's a win for the US as it advances the rule of law in China and elps corporatise the state as well.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2009 @ 7:41pm

    I really couldn't give a crap of what others think about me.

    It's well known that I tend to entertain about 5-6 ideas at a time, and now I'm up to about 8.

    Something has to give.

    Last time I pushed a good idea out to Mike, he told me to go away and start my own blog. I imagine that he was mad at his wife for not doing the dishes or something, but I stuck around. Anyways, I'm about to crown on idea 8 and I need to let something go so I can think about new idea 0.

    Hmmm.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2009 @ 7:51pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    One of the great things about Mike, "do as I say, not do as I do".

     

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  13.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), May 29th, 2009 @ 7:59pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    You, on the other hand (as some people probably don't know) run sites that scrape content from a bunch of other sites (including Techdirt)

    I don't have a problem with it. In fact I told him it was great that he valued my content so much. I just find it funny that he spends so much time here talking about the importance of protecting the content of others, and then he has no problem scraping ours. Just shows hypocracy. But I've got no problem with him doing it. As I said, more power to him...

     

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  14.  
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    Doctor Strange, May 29th, 2009 @ 8:09pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I don't have a problem with it.

    Incidentally, I've looked and tried to find out what license the content on Techdirt is released under, and I can't find it. I assume, then, it's basically under no license, and copyrighted like anything else (unless I'm just not looking in the right place).

    Are you planning to license the content under, for example, CC0?

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2009 @ 8:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Dr. Strange, you're now under the cocksucking License. Which basically means you get to suck my dick three times for every post I have. Considering that I post as Anonymous Coward, I imagine there's a lot of sucking that needs to be done.

    What's your zip code? I'll be there tomorrow.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 29th, 2009 @ 8:33pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Hypocrisy my ass.

    Mike, you state over and over again that you want your content taken. I used your content for a while, I realized it wasn't working out, and I dropped it in January. I was looking for news sources, and instead I found an opinion source. The only hypocrisy here is saying that your content is free to copy, and then giving people a rough time because they do it.

    So not a single one of your posts has been syndicated though my systems since January 1.

     

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  17.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), May 29th, 2009 @ 11:15pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Mike, you state over and over again that you want your content taken. I used your content for a while, I realized it wasn't working out, and I dropped it in January. I was looking for news sources, and instead I found an opinion source. The only hypocrisy here is saying that your content is free to copy, and then giving people a rough time because they do it.

    I wasn't giving you a hard time over copying the content. I was giving you a hard time over acting self-righteous about (a) how much our content sucks, when you've been copying it for years and (b) how important it is to protect your content and not let anyone copy it and do DMCA takedowns, when your entire site is based on scraping other people's content.

    You are free to do what you want with our content. My amusement was at the fact that you would do that and then say what you say.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2009 @ 5:17am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Mike, there is a very huge difference between the types of content I work with (images, videos, movies, etc) and the types of content you work with (opinion columns).

    Your content is the type of content that if it isn't widely distributed for free, it would be worthless. Without an audience, your words are just words. When I started to syndicate the material from your site, you were still at the level of having a hard time getting noticed outside of a small community. Your content was also much more general and open, more of news and less of a strident opinion.

    January 1st, I dropped your content because your site had become to much of a strident opinion.

    "My amusement was at the fact that you would do that and then say what you say."

    You miss the point. If you had put up agressive "don't use my stuff" warnings on your site, I wouldn't have syndicated you. You have indicated the opposite. I followed your wishes. That I choose not to use the same mentality that you do doesn't make me two faced or a liar, if anything it makes you look like a bad guy for bringing it up (and violating the "anonymous coward" status on this site for posters).

     

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  19.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), May 30th, 2009 @ 9:27pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Your content is the type of content that if it isn't widely distributed for free, it would be worthless.

    In other words, I chose a good business model. Thanks!

    When I started to syndicate the material from your site, you were still at the level of having a hard time getting noticed outside of a small community.

    Heh, we've never had a hard time getting noticed, but thanks for your concern. We launched this site based on an email list in 1998, and have never had a shortage of traffic. But why let facts get in the way...

    Your content was also much more general and open, more of news and less of a strident opinion.

    Heh. The posts haven't changed very much in terms of style, but if you want to believe otherwise...

    That I choose not to use the same mentality that you do doesn't make me two faced or a liar, if anything it makes you look like a bad guy for bringing it up (and violating the "anonymous coward" status on this site for posters).

    Just to be clear, I didn't "violate" anything. I see the same thing you do on the website. It's just that your writing style is so obvious it's easy to tell who you are. There are two trolls on the site whose writing style is incredibly easy to guess. Since it was so obvious, I called you on it... and you confirmed it.

    And, again, as I said, you are indeed free to make use of our content -- but it's still pretty amusing to see you try to backtrack your way out of it.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 30th, 2009 @ 9:42pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    He's just upset at the fact that you caught him in a contradiction, that's all. He didn't expect you to catch him, he wanted to be a hypocrite in secret.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2009 @ 6:30am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Actually, in conrent, your posts have not changed too much, but in tone there has been a massive change. While you use to report and point to interesting stories and raise questions, now you tend to draw conclusions even with less than complete data. I think it has to do with your desire to give more public presentations, I think you are honing your message and using this blog as a testing ground for various themes you could use in the future.

    As for backtracking, there is none. Again, if your content had been marked as "don't use", I would not have used it. It's sort of the same as using shareware or similar software. You are trying very, very hard to paint me as a bad guy, which makes me think if nothing else that I have pushed a few of your buttons. So if that leads to you violating your own minor privacy rules or whatnot, well, hey, enjoy it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
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    bigpicture, May 31st, 2009 @ 10:51am

    Re: Michael Scott

    If it is mindless cutsie dribble that you want, and not topics of social concern then you need to go back to /.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), May 31st, 2009 @ 1:42pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Actually, in conrent, your posts have not changed too much, but in tone there has been a massive change. While you use to report and point to interesting stories and raise questions, now you tend to draw conclusions even with less than complete data. I think it has to do with your desire to give more public presentations, I think you are honing your message and using this blog as a testing ground for various themes you could use in the future.

    Heh, you really shouldn't make assumptions. The tone of my posts has not changed much at all. About the only difference may be that over the past decade I've been seeing more and more data and evidence that shows the impact these issues have, so I can point to that.

    As for the presentations, I'm not interested in doing more of them. They're a pain and take a lot of time. They're fun every once in a while, but what I write on the blog is what I believe in. It has nothing to do with trying to do any more presentations.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 31st, 2009 @ 4:54pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I make the comment about presentations because I often see your posts as "trial balloons". You launch a softer take on a subject to see if there are any of us willing to munch on it, and when you get a thread with a reasonable number of replies, you start to build on it. When I watched your presentation videos that you posted a couple of months back, I could see exactly where the subjects you have honed here became the meat and potatoes of your presentation.

    It actually made me think of a comedian going to smaller places to try out new material, refining the jokes and working on the timing before appearing on the tonight show to a national audience, with the tested and worked on content sure to wow the masses.

    I think in the past couple of years, you have moved to a more, well, militant stance. I also think that you may have jumped the gun a bit, doing what I consider the worst thing that can be done while looking at a trend: Jumping past it's end point. When combined with your tendancy to state opinion as fact (or what I think of as "near fact"), it makes it a little harder to take these days.

    I sometimes wish you would take an extra minute to re-read what you post before you click the button, making sure that you aren't going just past that point of opinion into the real of attempting to create a reality that hasn't happened yet (or may never happen). I think your posts would be much more information and would allow for much more open discussions here.

     

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  25.  
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    Mechwarrior, Jun 1st, 2009 @ 6:32am

    Jeez, another Copyright lawyer trying to get some extra bucks. Let me guess, you work for Davenport Lyons?

     

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