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The protection and people's awareness of copyright are said to reflect the degree of cultural development of the country, and therefore, copyright systems should be understood by a wide range of people.


That's how the Copyright Research Information Center, a Japanese government-authorized "public service corporation", starts out its introduction to copyright for beginners. The Japanese version of that sentence is:

著作権に対する理解と保護の度合いは、その国の文化のバロメーターといわれています。それだけに、著作権とは何か、なぜ大切なのかをもっと知ることが必要です。


...Which literally translates as:

The degree of understanding and protection of copyright is said to be a barometer for a country's culture. For that reason, it is necessary to know more about what copyright is and why it is important.


It's a statement that still makes me boggle every time I need to visit CRIC's site to check something about Japanese copyright law. Of course, one could argue that it would indeed be a sign of "development" (whatever that means) for a country to have proportional, reality-based, and effective copyright legislation that verifiably does what copyright was intended to do, namely to promote the creation of culture. However, given how much the rest of CRIC's site goes on about how people should respect copyright more, I think they mean that "cultural development" (or in the Japanese version, simply "culture") should be measured by the degree to which people obey current copyright legislation. The way CRIC is trying to shape discourse around copyright here is pretty amazing. Copyright is not just a law, or a "moral right", but an indicator of the worth of a whole country's culture? Whoa, there.

I was reminded of CRIC's wording again after starting on William Patry's Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars, which deals with how participants in copyright-related battles use language to shape people's perception of the issues at hand and of the "other side": pirates, parasites, enemies, dinosaurs, and so on. "Pirates" is universally used, for instance, but it's an incredibly loaded word that does much to shape discourses around any sort of copying or sharing of media.

Judging by how fic is often described in the media, I get the feeling we have a bit of a discourse problem too :/ Hmmm, I wonder if we'd get any interesting results if we took a bunch of those "as others see us" news articles and ran them through a word cloud generator. *note to self*
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