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Censorship Businesses Media Music Apple

China Blocks iTunes 325

Posted by Soulskill
from the protesters-need-oxygen-let's-ban-that dept.
eldavojohn writes "If you like iTunes and you are one of the billion people residing in China, you may have noticed that you no longer have access to the eight million songs on it. An album, 'Songs for Tibet' was downloaded more than 40 times by Olympic athletes as a sign of solidarity for Tibet's cause. Ironically, this compilation had songs criticizing the 'Great Firewall of China,' and that is the very thing that prohibited these songs from reaching the Chinese public. Artists on the compilation include Alanis Morissette, Garbage, Imogen Heap, Moby, Sting, Suzanne Vega, Underworld and others." Additional coverage is available at Computerworld. Earlier this year, China blocked Youtube and other video services for similar reasons. More recently, the Chinese government detained a technologist who planned a pro-Tibet demonstration.
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China Blocks iTunes

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  • by Dare (18856) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @04:35AM (#24717007)

    Shouldn't that be "China Blocks iTunes Store"? What is this, Internet News by Joe Sixpack?

  • by burnitdown (1076427) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @04:49AM (#24717057) Homepage Journal

    We ban child porn and bomb making instructions, they ban bad music that criticizes the government.

    If anything they should be consistent and just ban bad music.

    How is it our place to criticize them? A country should be able to make decisions about what ideas it tolerates within its borders. Not all countries will make the same decision.

    Not everyone agrees with us enlightened, progressive, "free" Westerners. Get over it and get over yourselves. There's no scientific proof that our way is the universal right!

  • by VocationalZero (1306233) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @04:51AM (#24717063) Journal
    From the article

    "It seems like suspending iTunes is punishment for iTunes, but really it doesn't hurt iTunes, it hurts us," said a note on Chinese Apple fan site macfans.com.cn, according to the AP.

    Do Chinese leaders actually think what they are doing punishes iTunes? Mayhaps, a more devious conclusion; like the applications to protest in the "authorized protest zone", they are trying to incite outrage among hidden dissidents to... strengthen their unpaid labor force.

    Or maybe its just the technologically incompetent trying to rule the unruly propaganda machine that is technology with an iron (outdated; see steel) fist. Or both?

  • by saihung (19097) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @04:57AM (#24717091)

    They have the power to kill free debate and discussion within their borders. That's true. They have the power to murder Tibetans and then tell the rest of the country that Tibetans are very happy to be part of China, on pain of imprisonment.

    But as a free people, we have the right to point and them and call them cowards. That's about our freedom to call it like we see it. As long as there is freedom of speech anywhere in the world, then no one has the "right" to not have their evil discussed abroad.

  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @05:18AM (#24717173) Journal

    That will send a strong message to the chinese leaders, a country with over a billion people in a world of 6 billion people and a olympic event involving hundreds if not thousands of athletes and their support staff. 40 downloads.

    Guess that shows just how much athletes really care about peace and such.

    Did I download it? No, but then I don't try to pretend that my sporting event is anything else then an ego trip to prove I am better then everyone else.

    Frankly, the truth is nobody really cares about Tibet. Oh we might buy the t-shirt but we also buy t-shirts with the logo of a soda brand or whatever band the music industry pushed on us.

    Show me an athlete who refuses his medal to make a point and then I might think the olympics are any different from the soccer world championship.

  • by Asic Eng (193332) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @05:56AM (#24717313)
    How is it our place to criticize them? A country should be able to make decisions about what ideas it tolerates within its borders. Not all countries will make the same decision.

    So we should accept another country's right to censorship because that's the moral thing to do? How come that moral concept is universal, and the moral concept of human rights is not? I don't see how that position makes sense.

  • by thermian (1267986) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @06:16AM (#24717387)

    Maybe, but China's history of human rights abuses speaks for itself.

    If its history we're talking about, then what about America's history of human rights abuse (slave trade anyone?), or the UK (slaves again, plus that whole empire thing, and navvies).

    In fact almost all western countries have just as bad a record as China, only for us a lot of it is in the past. for the US that past isn't too far back, we are in fact talking just decades since the 'not slaves any more honest' were fully accorded the rights they were promised by Lincoln.

    Not that I don't like America, I do, its just that I don't hide from the truth of things.

    So, check your history before declaring China to be the fount of all that is wrong in the world.

  • by Turnpike Lad (1006707) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @06:21AM (#24717401)
    The Great Firewall of China blocking a song that criticizes the Great Firewall of China is not ironic. It would be ironic if the Great Firewall of China blocked a song that _praised_ the Great Firewall of China.
  • by Asic Eng (193332) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @06:29AM (#24717435)
    How brave, I think foreign leaders will be impressed and change their evil ways.

    *shrug* - the apartheid regime owes it's downfall partly due to economic sanctions by the western world. You can't achieve everything just by getting public opinion in the west on your side. But the western world is powerful, and public opinion is a powerful factor in the western world.

    You are right that you don't have to be brave to protest for Tibet while living in the US, you just have to be willing to get of your butt. So what?

  • by cortana (588495) <{sam} {at} {robots.org.uk}> on Saturday August 23, 2008 @06:31AM (#24717443) Homepage

    If China is taking moral cues from how Imperial powers acted in the 19th century and before then yes, we have a problem.

    Interestingly, no one seems to know much about how the slave trade was ended, in large part due to the efforts of Britain after we decided to abolish it.

  • by Asic Eng (193332) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @06:33AM (#24717453)
    Well maybe that's one way of circumventing the great firewall - just have Tibet-protests on just about any website of interest. Eventually they'd have the choice of pulling the plug on either the firewall or the internet connection itself.
  • by MightyYar (622222) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @06:40AM (#24717487)

    Oooo! Or, we could fill up Tienanmen square with peaceful people in protest. Then they'd have the choice of listening to us or just mowing us all down.

  • by flyingsquid (813711) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @06:48AM (#24717521)
    If its history we're talking about, then what about America's history of human rights abuse (slave trade anyone?), or the UK (slaves again, plus that whole empire thing, and navvies). In fact almost all western countries have just as bad a record as China, only for us a lot of it is in the past. for the US that past isn't too far back, we are in fact talking just decades since the 'not slaves any more honest' were fully accorded the rights they were promised by Lincoln.

    The difference is not that the United States has made no mistakes- it's made some pretty awful ones. The difference is that when society feels that these mistakes need to be corrected, the government sooner or later has to respond, because citizens are free to voice their opinions and influence the debate. That happened with the abolition of slavery, and that happened again with the civil rights movement. Elements of the government did try to fight the civil rights movement, but ultimately Martin Luther King was not sent off to a labor camp for re-education. That meant he was able to keep speaking out to persuade our society and our government to try to do the right thing.

  • by flyingsquid (813711) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @06:55AM (#24717547)
    Not everyone agrees with us enlightened, progressive, "free" Westerners. Get over it and get over yourselves. There's no scientific proof that our way is the universal right!

    The West kicked the ass of the totalitarian regimes of Nazi Germany and Italy in WWII, and then watched communism crumble into the ground. Politically free, free market societies simply tend to do better in the long run than repressive, totalitarian societies. Or look at the Arab dictatorships of the Middle East: sure, a lot of them are wealthy, but they're basically all failures. In scientific terms they have produced nothing, in economic terms they produce nothing except oil, and in military terms, none of them could take on Israel in a fight.

    Suppressing political discourse and reporting basically means that the government is no longer accountable for its failures. For instance, if a family protests the fact that a school collapsed in an earthquake and killed their daughter, and you arrest the family (which is the kind of shit the Chinese government is currently doing), well sure it helps the government maintain control. But it also means that the corrupt people who built the substandard schools go free and the problem doesn't get fixed. Perhaps you get stability, but in the long run the lack of government accountability means that the system lacks the ability to improve itself and adapt to changing conditions. Basically, you're saying that the ideas and opinions of 99% of your population aren't worth listening to. That's just a stupid way to run a society. And keep in mind that for all of China's impressive economic growth, the vast majority of the country is still dirt poor. They've managed to create a middle and upper class, but it remains to be seen whether the rest of the country can share in the gains.

  • by jez9999 (618189) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @06:56AM (#24717555) Homepage Journal

    They'd pull the internet connection; don't kid yourself.

  • by MrKaos (858439) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @07:07AM (#24717605) Journal

    If its history we're talking about, then what about America's history of human rights abuse (slave trade anyone?), or the UK (slaves again, plus that whole empire thing, and navvies).

    I object to ALL human rights abuses. As it stands the subject of *this* conversation and *this* Olympics is China's human right's abuses.

    So, check your history before declaring China to be the fount of all that is wrong in the world.

    I'm well versed in the human rights abuses of Western countries, thank you very much. I did have an open mind on China during the lead up to the Olympics, but as I learned more it's evident that China has a record of human rights abuses at least as bad as western countries.

    Oppression is a trans-national phenomenon that must be challenged wherever it occurs.

  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @07:32AM (#24717703) Journal
    I believe the grandparent was referring to how the human rights abuses are reported. For example, in the UK there was the 2005 incident where Jean Charles de Menezes was shot by police for running while looking a bit foreign. In the local press, this was covered as a serious abuse of police power by a small number of individuals and a total failure of the system. It could easily have been covered as a government-sponsored assassination of someone rumoured to have been criticising official policy. If you read the former, you might be concerned about the British police. If you read the latter, you would gain the impression that the UK is a totalitarian regime where the people live in fear of death squads (it isn't yet, but Tony did his best). Coverage of events in China by the western media tends to favour the second interpretation. Unfortunately, there isn't an unbiased source available, so it's very hard to find the truth. Talking to people who live in China you get a very different picture (although I know one Chinese girl whose father isn't allowed to visit her because the government won't allow him to leave the country with his brain full of military secrets).
  • by Andrew-Unit (798862) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @08:04AM (#24717867)

    Or look at the Arab dictatorships of the Middle East: sure, a lot of them are wealthy, but they're basically all failures. In scientific terms they have produced nothing, in economic terms they produce nothing except oil, and in military terms, none of them could take on Israel in a fight.

    Let's not get excited and go overboard.

    The region of Iraq was historically known as Mesopotamia (Greek: "between the rivers"). It was home to the world's first known civilization, the Sumerian culture, followed by the Akkadian, Babylonian, and Assyrian cultures, whose influence extended into neighboring regions as early as 5000 BC. These civilizations produced some of the earliest writing and some of the first sciences, mathematics, laws and philosophies of the world; hence its common epithet, the "Cradle of Civilization"

    Also read a bit about the Islamic Golden Age beginning in the 8th century.

  • by microbox (704317) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @08:25AM (#24718013)
    I second that. They are cowards - afraid to look in the mirror. Now some chinese person's going to reply to this and tell me about all the western hypocrisy, but unlike most westerners, they'll never turn their gaze upon themselves.

    This behaviour reminds me of the type of person who is so self-absorbed that they don't know what a complete joke people think they are. All the while, they try to sell you on their big opinion of themselves.

    The chinese actions would be hilarious, except that so much human suffering is involved. China is completely out of touch with itself.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 23, 2008 @08:27AM (#24718033)
    Not protesting a tyranny hosting the olympics worked so fine back in '36.
  • by pushing-robot (1037830) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @08:29AM (#24718041)

    Money.

  • by zmooc (33175) <zmooc@NosPaM.zmooc.net> on Saturday August 23, 2008 @08:30AM (#24718047) Homepage

    We really aren't that affected at all

    Did you know there's a word for that? It's called apathy.

  • by nomadic (141991) <nomadicworld@nOSpaM.gmail.com> on Saturday August 23, 2008 @08:48AM (#24718161) Homepage
    So, check your history before declaring China to be the fount of all that is wrong in the world.

    Complete strawman. The people who criticize China tend to be people who also criticize the US. They're not hypocrites for including China as a target.
  • I am shocked! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JoeD (12073) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @09:19AM (#24718369) Homepage

    I am shocked - SHOCKED - that a repressive totalitarian regime would censor something criticizing it.

    Oh wait. I'm not.

    I'm shocked that people keep forgetting that China is ruled by a repressive totalitarian regime.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 23, 2008 @10:53AM (#24719083)

    King was murdered.

  • by S.O.B. (136083) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @11:40AM (#24719411)

    Having studied political science and economics the statements I quoted do capture the essence of communism and anarchism accurately enough for the purposes of this discussion. My goal was not to provide an in depth contrast and comparison of those two concepts. If that's what you're looking for or expect then I suggest you find a site dedicated to discussion of political/economic theories.

    As to you comments on my choice of Wikipedia as a source, if you can find sources that you believe are more accurate and contradict the quotes I provided then I encourage you to post them. I have no problem with constructive criticism but if you're going to criticize the source then you could at least back it up.

  • by gullevek (174152) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @12:23PM (#24719675) Homepage Journal

    theoretically yes, but as china does tons of production for outside companies, etc I doubt they would do that, they would cut of the money stream ...

  • by BSDetector (1056962) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @02:39PM (#24720751)
    I clearly think censorship of any kind by anyone is just WRONG! That includes China. But why is there no criticism in Slashdot of Apple for their heavy-handed censorship of forum postings?

    http://blogs.zdnet.com/Apple/?p=2173/ [zdnet.com]

    Slashdot hypocrisy is action? Go ahead and mod me down more. That's a form of censorship too!
  • by burnitdown (1076427) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @03:10PM (#24721041) Homepage Journal

    I think it's a habit of all dying regimes, dying nations and failing groups to engage in surrogate activities [anus.com].

    Americans aren't unique. They're just at the head of this trend in the West. The UK and Canada follow, and after that, mainland Europe.

    It's a path to decay you can find outlined here:

    The Republic [mit.edu]

    But it's far easier for people to go into denial, as you can see when a thread whose content is "They are cowards - afraid to look in the mirror. Now some chinese person's going to reply to this and tell me about all the western hypocrisy, but unlike most westerners, they'll never turn their gaze upon themselves." modded up above any more realistic commentary.

    Why? It's easier to blame the Chinese than look at our own problems and realize we in the West should clean house first.

  • by sydneyfong (410107) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @05:08PM (#24722017) Homepage Journal

    Why, most westerners actually think that the citizens of Taiwan actually want to be a separate country!

    The next thing those crazy westerners will be trying to tell us is that the Chinese governement actually masaccred students in Tienneman Square! What a load of propaganda!

    You think this is funny? Sarcastic?

    You're just proving my point.

    The current Taiwanese president's (who was popularly elected) stance on Taiwan's status is that he wouldn't push for independence, instead preferring to tread the fine line of the current status quo. The Taiwanese aren't actually loathing for (re)union with China, but they aren't unequivocally for independence either.

    And I didn't read People's Daily about the Tienanmen Square event. Did you use CNN/Foxnews as your sources? Have you watched this before? http://www.tsquare.tv/ [tsquare.tv] (note: it isn't made by the Chinese)

    And as for the more serious items...

    Uh, how about hold elections? The kind where anybody can run? And how about having a free press where one isn't punished for expressing one's opinions? That would be a good start and in the long run would substantially improve the situation.

    Considering the fact that most of China is still in poverty, how would you resolve the problem of buying votes? How would you prevent "free press" from inciting revolts and bringing the whole society into chaos? [note: this isn't far fetched, it has more than once in the past few decades] And if you think your suggestions are really insightful, I'd have to break your bubble. The Chinese government tried to move towards this direction two decades ago, and it sort of backfired, resulting in the Tienanmen incident. The government had been cautious to try it again (but it seems they are gradually opening up again in recent years). I'm not making this up... go watch the documentary (above link) yourself.

  • by ktappe (747125) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @11:33PM (#24724029)

    It's easier to blame the Chinese than look at our own problems and realize we in the West should clean house first.

    Now, America is deeply flawed in several ways, and I'm no fan of the Bush cabal (having protested against him on numerous occasions), and think Guantanamo is going to be a black eye on this country for a century to come. THAT SAID, I think your statements go too far. Show me anti-Bush bloggers or songwriters disappearing off the streets of NY or Chicago or LA, and I'll agree America's problems deserve more attention than China's. Show me major websites and other internet services blocked to Americans by the government, major religious movements crushed, single-party leaders in power for decades, and then you're proven right. Until then, you took your point too far. Yes, Bush/Cheney have done everything they can to get us there, and did make fearful strides towards totalitarianism, but the U.S. is not quite China yet.

  • by gullevek (174152) on Sunday August 24, 2008 @12:12AM (#24724149) Homepage Journal

    you really think thats the only thing that goes over the internet? Banking transfers, order updates, shipping orders, etc. Do you think they will send a FAX to the china factory for the MacPro, etc?

...there can be no public or private virtue unless the foundation of action is the practice of truth. - George Jacob Holyoake

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