Archive for April, 2011

COE Internet Freedom Conference

Council of Europe organized the “Internet Freedom Conference: From Principles to Global Treaty Law? Content, Stakeholders and Form” on April 18-19 in Strasbourg, France. The Conference Video is now available online. I joined the conference and presented at “Panel 5: International lawmaking in their respective roles and responsibilities.” Although there are documents available, I’d suggest everyone take a look at the videos that are much more revealing.

The Conference is interesting in several aspects. Firstly, CoE published two background documents for discussions. One is “Internet Governance Principles” and the other is “Protection and Promotion of Internet’s Universality, Integrity and Openness.” According to CoE’s interpretation, the former one is applicable to all stakeholders while the latter primarily applies to the Member States. These documents are no doubt thoughtful outputs on Internet Governance, although they are obviously still under construction. Some contents are missing and some needs to be adjusted. Secondly, CoE is now taking brave steps to measure the possibility of having a “global” treaty law on Internet governance, after the successful enactment of Cybercrime Convention. Although the name is weird to legal community–there has no global but “international” treaty law, it may open up our mind as I stated on a few critical governance issues, such as cyber-peace, cyber-security and cyber-openness. Thirdly, it is really interesting to watch the extremely diverse reaction from different stakeholder groups. Governments seem naturally supportive to treaty regime while business community casts serious doubt on it. Civil society and academic have different views and mixed feelings about “legalization” of Internet governance. Finally it was a very fruitful and inspiring brainstorming. It is amazing that there could be so many participants from Europe community. I talked briefly with the two other colleagues from Asia. We all agree that it would not be possible for Asia to reach the same level maturity in any near future.

The city of Strasbourg is lovable. I took a boat trip with Bill on the picturesque Ill River and enjoyed watching the water leverages learned from China. Wow, knowledge wants to share! The chatting afterward was as pleasant as the weather.

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Answer Blowing in the Wind





In the Traditional Calendar, it will soon be Qing Ming. Unlike Halloween, Qing Ming is not a playful day and absolutely not for children. It is a day to memorize the ancestors and the other dead family. It is also a day for everyone to review the past and think about the meaning of remaining life. I guess only Chinese who can maintain such a meditation “holiday” that links up the spiritual world with the reality, the past with the future, and the dead with the live.

Meditation can make people calm down and purify their thought. But meditation may not always provide the answer people are seeking for. How many times must Baidu be sued before we can know the right and wrong in cyberspace? Baidu that occupies 70% of Internet search market in China was pushed into spotlight by a group of well-know novelists who are angry at the Baidu’s document file-share services that enable millions of literary works (particularly novels) be uploaded and shared among Internet users. Baidu had been sued for a couple of times by phonograph industry for MP3 file-sharing services. However, the contradictory decisions made by a variety of courts under the influence of those “Gold-Ruble” scholars only serve to confuse the public and blur the line of right and wrong. I’m now in belief that the liability of inducement may not be a bad solution, because it could put an end to the game of “catch-me-if-you-can” played by those intermediaries in genuine bad faith.

Yes, the file-sharing services are free of charge to users, but they are profiting from commercial ads; Yes, there is “safe harbor” available in the law, it should never shield intentional and systematic infringers; Yes, people need to access information and copyright works, but the danger to let a commercial company to maintain a major information channel to the public is even more acute and penetrating. Cannot the people see that they will be at the mercy of a company if it is allowed to monopolize the source of information and knowledge? If one day, you can only read a novel from Baidu, you would have to accept any condition Baidu imposes on you. In a poor competitive environment, the danger of such monopoly is imminent.

An interview of mine on Baidu case has been published at BNU Newspaper on April 11, 2011.

My view on Google Book Project (article published on China Copyright, Issue 1, 2011) has been completely proved by the Decision of Judge Denny Chin in U.S. district court in Manhattan. I don’t think Baidu’s services is anything better than Google’s project that also labeled as a service to the public. But the answer to Baidu’s case is still blowing in the wind in this thousand-year old country.


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