US-Korea FTA on Copyright

2007-04-26 - oiwan

Two weeks ago, I was in Sydney for the OURmedia conference. One of the most useful exchange was regarding the copyright issue.

PatchA from had given us a very detailed brief about the US-Korea FTA negotiation on Copyright. There is a coalition of human right, media, citizen, and medical organizations against the FTA Copyright terms.

In brief, there are 4 major parts:

1. Extending the protection period from 50 to 70 years after the death of the creator. PatchA pointed out that Mickey mouse is already 76 years old, every year, the Disney company still fought to extend its copyright because its face worth billions of dollars every year.

2. Demanding a stronger sanctions on circumvention of technical measures. This part is targeting on acts that try to by-pass the technical measure for limiting access and to manufacture and provide services or tools for the purpose of circumventing the technical measures to restrict access or use.

3. Demanding the stipulation of temporary reproduction. It treats temporary reproduction is as copying acts and calls for regulation. Even in U.S, temporary reproduction is not explicitly regulated.

4. Demand for strict enforcement of the copyright laws, which allow the minister of culture and tourism direct administrative control over the deletion and collection of copyright infringements. Under the enforcement, Internet Service Providers are forced to keep IP record of their customers.

PatchA pointed out that the FTA terms are stricter than those in U.S. Since adopted an auto delete IP practice, if the government enforced the law, they might have to move their server overseas.

PatchA also pointed out that U.S FTA negotiation team is dominated by corporate agenda. Usually their suggestions are much harsher than the domestic policy, and later, the practice can be re-imported back to U.S.

However, when compared with Hong Kong, the Korea-U.S FTA are not that harsh, at least there were no proposal or concrete suggestion about criminalizing downloading activities, nor statutory damage. PatchA agreed that Hong Kong is the worst case in the world, and strangely, we do that without any political pressure from the U.S.

Both Isaac and Hu'er in the copyright=creativity? symposium organized by Open knowledge Action had pointed out that Hong Kong's web innovation had already lagged behind Mainland China and Hong Kong, the recent framework in digital copyright consultation, if carried out, would be the death of the city's creativity and possibly freedom of speech and expression.

What makes the government proposes something that go against public interest? For U.S, the real interest is billions of overseas loyalty for multinational corporations from music, film and software industries. Hong Kong is not a culture or technology export city.

The decision is rather ideological, an anxiety to become international as the reality is going in the opposite direction. And the bureaucrats reproduced the colonial rationality in an even more extreme form than before.

Korean NGO's positional paper on FTA-copyright can be downloaded here.