Laikwan Pang is Professor of Cultural Studies in the Department of Cultural and Religious Studies at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. She is the author of a few books, including The Distorting Mirror: Visual Modernity in China (University of Hawaii Press, 2007) and Creativity and Its Discontents: China’s Creative Industries and Intellectual Property Right Offense (Duke University Press, 2012). Her latest manuscript, The Art of Cloning: Cultural Production during China’s Cultural Revolution, is forthcoming from Verso.
“The Agony of Freedom: Debates around Hong Kong Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2014”
This paper discusses the Hong Kong government’s recent withdrawal of its Copyright Bill Amendment after netizens’ tremendous protests. Copyright becomes a highly politicized site of contestation in Hong Kong after the Umbrella Movement, when the local people’s distrust of the SAR government increases, and press freedom declines. This amendment is meant to step up copyright protections against online piracy. But many local people find the internet the only safe haven where freedom of expression can be exercised. The original commercial concerns of the copyright owners are quickly sidelined by the epidemic political anxieties, and the netizens worry that this copyright bill could become legal means to stamp the little freedom of expression left in this city. This paper analyzes how copyright becomes a battlefield in Hong Kong’s fight for democracy, and how the commercial interests of the right holders collide and contest with the political interests of the public.