Sunday, June 20, 2010

Is Hong Kong's Copyright Stopping the Publication of Li Peng's Historic Significant Diary?

Benjamin Kam Lim reports for Reuters that the diary of Li Peng that describes Li's version of what happened during the events that lead up to the June 3, 1989 massacre, that Hong Kong publisher New Centuty Press was going publish this June 22, will be halted, because the copyright holder allegedly is banning it.

The South China Morning Post quotes Cai Yongmei, editor-in-chief of Hong Kong's Open Magazine saying that she believes that Beijing intervened, because the diary could stir controversy, especially about premier Wen Jiaobao and president Hu Jintao's allegedly agreement over the intervention of the People's Liberation Army at the Square of the Heavenly Peace. Another possibility is that Hong Kong exerted self-censorship.

Whether the prohibition of the publication of the diary because of the copyright is not applicable, Ms Cai is alleging, because of the significance of its historical content, is dubious. One can still study it and write about it, without publishing the original.

In Germany the publication of Hitler's 'Mein Kampf' is prohibited because the copyright holder, the State of Bavaria does not allow it. Only after the German copyright (death of the author plus 70 years) expires, which will be in 2015, the book falls into the public domain. See more here.

According to Hong Kong's Copyright Ordinance (which is in this respect the same as China's Copyright Law), the copyright length is life of the author plus 50 years. Li Peng, is still alive, so after his death it will take another 50 years.

So who has the copyright over the book? Did Li Peng assign his copyright to someone else who does not give his permission?

Read Benjamin Kang Lim's article here.

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