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Open Access Publications from the University of California

UCLA Pacific Basin Law Journal

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PBLJ focuses on a diverse range of legal and policy issues as they affect the rapidly developing economies of the Pacific Rim. Throughout its history, the journal has featured articles written by leading scholars and practitioners on topics including human rights law, constitutional law, comparative law, criminal law, international trade law, business and corporate law, and intellectual property law.

Volume 29, Issue 1, 2011


A South Seas State of Nature: The Legal History of Pitcairn Island, 1790-1900

Pitcairn Island was uninhabited in 1790 when the mutineers of the Royal Navy's Bounty settled there with men and women from Tahiti to serve as slaves and wives for the sailors. Murders and accidents claimed the lives the leader of the mutiny, Fletcher Christian, and those of every adult male save John Adams. Adams led the remaining islanders under a benevolent dictatorship for the rest of his life, a South Seas Christian monarchy cut off from the rest of the world. After the island was rediscovered, new settlers arrived, including a delusional Englishman named Joshua Hill who took over the island and ruled the islanders by fear. After he was removed by the Royal Navy, it supervised the island for decades, its ships regularly visiting the island and its officers writing several simple legal codes for the Pitcairners. The islanders consented as they considered themselves to be English and were fervently loyal to Queen Victoria. The British administration was very light for decades, the islanders largely running their own affairs.  That changed after a Pitcairner murdered two islanders in 1897. The British realized there was no way to try the defendant short of taking him to London. The solution was to place the island under the High Commissioner for the Western Pacific. The High Commissioner was a British official based in Fiji whose job was to bring law and order to a vast swath of the Pacific and suppress the slave trade among the islands. The High Commissioner arranged for a trial for the murderer, who was convicted and hanged. Pitcairn's government operated under the High Commissioner until 1952 and now is run by the British ambassador to New Zealand.

Legislative Reform of the Kaesong Industrial Complex in North Korea

The Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC) in North Korea is the last vestige of inter-Korean cooperation. It contributes to economic modernization of North Korea, peace and stability in East Asia, and international trade and nonproliferation of nuclear weapons. However, flaws in the KIC legislative framework leave businesses and individuals unprotected and threaten the very existence of the KIC. This Article examines the legislative problems facing the KIC and offers proposals for legislative reform. Part I demonstrates that the KIC plays an important role in the domestic, regional, and international contexts. Part II presents a critical analysis of KIC legislation. It identifies three main problems: (1) flaws in the statutory text; (2) questions regarding the effectiveness of KIC laws; and (3) inadequate dispute resolution provisions. It argues that the combined effect of these legislative problems is to give North Korean authorities control over KIC businesses, personnel, and operations. Part III presents proposals for KIC legislative reform. It shows that two approaches are most promising foreign assistance in improving and reforming KIC laws and inter-Korean agreements. The Article concludes that only through legislative reform can the KIC realize its domestic, regional, and international potential by safeguarding its businesses and individuals and by ensuring its stability and sound development.

The Yang Obeys, but the Yin Ignores: Copyright Law and Speech Suppression in the People's Republic of China

Copyright law can either promote or restrict free speech: while copyright preserves economic incentives to create and publish new expression, it also fences off expression from public use. For this reason, the effect of copyright law on speech in a given country depends on the particular manner in which it is understood, legislated, and enforced.

This Article argues that copyright law in the People's Republic of China (PRC) serves as a tool for speech suppression and censorship. Whereas China has engaged in official censorship for thousands of years, there has historically been little appreciation for proprietary rights in art and literature. Just as China's early twentieth century attempts to recognize copyright overlapped with strict publication controls, the PRC's modern copyright regime embodies the view that copyright is a mechanism for policing speech and media.

The decade-long debate that preceded the PRC's first copyright statute was shaped by misunderstanding, politics, ideology, and historical forces. Scholars and lawmakers widely advocated that Chinese copyright law discriminate based on media content and carefully circumscribe authors' rights. These concerns, intensified by the Tiananmen Square crackdown, bore directly on the content of China's 1990 Copyright Law. While the Copyright Law has evolved over the past two decades (especially in response to the advent of digital technology), a censorship-oriented philosophy has continued to inform its content and interpretation. China's conflation of copyright protection and speech control is especially egregious at the enforcement stage: government "anti-piracy" efforts double as censorship campaigns, and copyright enforcement is often subjugated to the objectives of China's media control bureaucracy.

This unhappy reality highlights the need for the United States to revise its approach to Chinese intellectual property reform. Although the U.S. has both pushed for stronger copyright protection in China and criticized PRC censorship practices, it has largely ignored the impact of Chinese copyright law on free speech. U.S. political interests and Chinese society would be better served by a more holistic policy.