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We Touch Chen's Steamed Bread

徐继哲  2009年08月03日 星期一 20:27 | 14207次浏览 | 1条评论

by Bill Xu , Richard Stallman

Apparently, we touched Chen's steamed bread just for fun. Though Hu didn't say that Chen has nothing on, Chen is very angry for this touch, and breaks his rice bow into pieces in person at the same time, it is very pity.

For this famous parody, I thought it just affects Chinese, but when I got an email from Richard about this, I realized that someone western know this too. So I made an interview with Richard Stallman who is the founder of Free Software Foundation ( http://www.fsf.org ), the GNU project ( http://www.gnu.org ) and the academician of NAE. We'll discuss this parody from the law and ethical point of view, to tell the people whether we can touch Chen's steamed bread. From the dialogue, I can give a conclusion that Richard likes to eat Hu's steamed bread, just like he always likes Chinese food. The following is the dialogue between Bill Xu and Richard Stallman.

Richard Stallman and Bill Xu

Bill Xu:
Recently, in China a famous incident was the discussion about a parody, The Steamed Bread Murder Case, when I knew you cared it too, I feel a little amazed. Where did you get this news? And why did you care this?

Richard Stallman:
This story was covered in a Western newspaper that I read. The paper probably regarded it as an oddity, but I think it is an important issue, for two reasons. First of all, I love jokes, and especially parodies, so I am outraged when someone threatens to censor them. Secondly, I'm always seriously concerned about the harm done by unjust copyright laws that restrict the public.

Bill Xu:
Did you see the film The Promise and The Steamed Bread Murder Case? Which one do you like more?

Richard Stallman:
I have no way to see either one of them. I never buy DVDs, because they are published in an encrypted format specifically to restrict the public. It was supposed to be impossible to write free software that could play a DVD, but Jon Johansen did it. Now that free software is censored in the US, and that gives me only two ethical options: to get it underground, or to boycott DVDs. I prefer to boycott DVDs, because it makes a better point. Besides, since the movie companies are at the forefront of trying to impose new restrictive copyright laws on the world, I'd rather not give them any of my money.

I could in theory get a copy via peer-to-peer networks to get copies of these two videos. That would be ethical, in my view; peer-to-peer sharing is ethical and should be lawful. But I am sure that the MPAA thinks of me as an enemy, and perhaps it is looking for an excuse to sue me. So in general I would rather simply not see them. I rarely see movies, except on airplanes. Anyway, books are so much better.

But even if someone slid unencrypted copies of these movies under my door, there would still be a problem: I don't speak Chinese. I could not understand them without subtitles. If the Steamed Bread Murder Case has subtitles, I hope I will get to see it some day. I would probably enjoy it and laugh.But there's nothing urgent about it. I don't have to have an aesthetic opinion about either the original or the parody in order to think about the ethical issue here. The ethical issue is simple. People should have the right to make parodies of anything. That is an important part of freedom of expression.

The US is no great example nowadays of respect for human rights. But in one specific respect, US copyright law does the right thing. Parodies like this one are legally considered "fair use". Courts have ruled that you don't need to get someone's permission before you make fun of him by parodying his work. It is lawful, pure and simple.

Bill Xu:
As we know, you are the founder of FSF, and launched the GNU project and GPL, the spirit guru of free software movement, the first one that know the harm of proprietary software. You encourage people to share the source code, and study, copy, modify and redistribute the computer software. Could you please tell us how should we deal with the art invention from this point of view? How do we hearten the freedom and invention? How do you think about the difference and relation between software development and art invention?

Richard Stallman:
Software is a practical art; the purpose of writing a program is not mainly for it to look pretty, it is for the program to do a certain job. This makes an important difference for issues of copying and copyright law.

Works of practical use, such as software, encyclopedias, and textbooks must be free(ziyou, not mianfei): that means every user deserves four essential freedom:

0. The freedom to run the program (consult the work) as you wish.
1. The freedom to study the source code of the program (or other work) and change it to do what you wish.
2. The freedom to make copies and distribute them to others.
3. The freedom to distribute or publish modified versions.

If you don't have these freedoms for the works that you use in your daily activities, you can't control your activities--instead, the developer controls you.

Works of art are a different issue: they are not meant to do practical jobs--art has a different kind of purpose. So I don't think that people should _in general_ have the freedom to publish modified versions of works of art. I'd say that there are two essential freedoms that everyone should have, in using art (and any kind of published works):

0. The freedom to redistribute exact copies noncommercially. (For instance, through peer-to-peer sharing.)
1. The freedom to use parts of the work in making another work which _as a whole_ is very different. This is what Larry Lessig refers to as "remix", and it is an important part of the progress of art.

#1 includes making a parody such as the Steamed Bread Murder Case. Although I have not seen these two videos, in general I think that parodies are just as important as contributions to art as "serious" works are.

From this response, you can see that I am not totally opposed to copyright law; I do not want to abolish it completely. If someone else commercially distributes Chen's film, or something quite similar to it, I think it is ok for Chen to be able to sue and stop him, and/or collect money from him. But copyright law must be designed to serve the public good--to promote culture while respecting the essential freedoms of all. When it does not respect these essential freedoms, then it is too restrictive.

Bill Xu:
Now some lawyers or experts think that Hu infracted Chen's copyright, so from the law point of view, if Chen sues Hu, they think that Chen maybe win the lawsuit. But the most of people support Hu, How do you think about this phenomenon?

Richard Stallman:
It shows that Chinese copyright law might need to be changed in order to respect the rights and serve the interests of the people of China. And that the people of China understand this. China, like other countries, must resist organizations such as the World Trade Organization, whose purpose is to subjugate all countries.

Bill Xu:
Some people usually use the term "intellectual property" as a way of talking about copyright, patent and trademark all together. What do you think about this?

Richard Stallman:
Copyright law and patent law have about as much in common as China and India. To treat them both together as a single subject is pure confusion--it's a basic mistake that makes clear thinking impossible. Trademark law is even more different--if we continue the above analogy, trademark law would be Armenia.

Imagine if everyone stopped using the names China, India, and Armenia, and always said "Asia" instead. Everyone would learn a mixture of information about these three countries, and they would think they knew something about "Asia". For example, many people would read that Asia (Armenia) is mostly Christian; that most people in Asia (India) speak Hindi, and that people in Asia (China) eat with chopsticks. They would believe that "Asia" is inhabited by Christians that speak Hindi and eat with chopsticks. (I would be surprised to learn that even one such person really exists.)

Now imagine that everyone was confused in that way, so that there was nobody who could clear up the confusion. That's how bad the confusion gets when people try to think about "intellectual property". Anyone who uses the term "intellectual property" is either confused, or trying to confuse you.

To think clearly about copyright, about patents, and about trademarks, you need to think about them separately. The best way to help people think about them separately is to reject the term "intellectual property" completely.

Bill Xu:
Do you want to say something to Hu, Chen and the Chinese netizens?

Richard Stallman:
First, I want to congratulate Mr Hu on his comedic success. I hope that someday one of my song parodies will be such a triumph. Second, I beg Mr Hu never to apologize for what he has done. Publishing a parody is a contribution to culture, and nobody should ever apologize for that.

To Mr Chen, I would like to say that you should learn to laugh at yourself. I may not be as famous as you, but people have published cartoons making fun of me. Most of them made me laugh, and I sent fan letters to their authors. A few struck me as mean, and I told their authors so. But I have never even considered suing people for making fun of me, and you should not do it either.

To Chinese netizens, please give Mr Hu your clear and strong support. This will help show Mr Chen the right path.

Bill Xu:
Thank you for your wonderful point of view. I don't know whether Chen sue Hu until now, but I wish Chen could learn to laugh at himself, and enjoy the parody, and give us more excellent films in the future. For Hu, I wish he could continue to contribute more wonderful parody. Anyway, I think the constitution can give a just judgment which will reflect the public opinion. Form this incident; we should agree that the wisdom and justice are always from the common people.

Finally, I wish we can discuss something about free software movement, such as GPLv3, in the future! Thank you!

Richard Stallman:
I look forward to it.




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回复 向坤  2009年08月07日 星期五 15:56




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