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October 25, 2016
By: Dominique Page

Brian L. Frye, Spears-Gilbert Associate Professor of Law at the University of Kentucky College of Law, visited China this past September, where he spoke at a symposium entitled, “International Symposium on Foreign Law and Comparative Law.” 

Professor Frye presented his “Observations on Comparative Intellectual Property Law” to scholars at the Beijing International Studies University Law School. He also presented a talk on the same subject at Zhejiang Gongshang University Law School in Hangzhou, to a large audience made up of mostly students. During his presentations, Professor Frye observed that when the United States enters into trade agreements with countries like China, it typically encourages other countries to “strengthen” their IP laws and “harmonize” them with U.S. law. But many IP scholars believe that U.S. IP law is too broad and may actually stifle innovation. Professor Frye suggested that countries like China should consider asking the U.S. to justify the IP laws the U.S. wants them to adopt.

“I was very impressed by how thoughtful and engaged the students were and I was pleasantly surprised to see that political freedom seems to be increasing,” said Professor Frye. “While the Chinese government still blocks many internet sites (Google, Facebook, Twitter) requiring you to use a VPN to access them, in private, people were quite willing to offer critical opinions of official policy and government action. In fact, even the presentations at the conference were more politically daring than I had expected.”

Students from both schools offered tours of the cities to Professor Frye and his wife Katrina, who accompanied him on the trip. When asked about his favorite part of China, Professor Frye replied, “The bullet train was very cool and modern and gave us a chance to see the Chinese countryside, albeit at 120 mph. We also visited the Panjiayuan Antique Market in Beijing, which was huge and full of amazing items. We came home with some records, including flexi discs of a Chinese opera, which we played on our radio show the following week, The Bindle on WRFL 88.1 Lexington.”

Frye first visited China in 2005, immediately after taking the bar exam in New York. . “The country has changed a lot in the interim! The amount of modernization and development was just staggering,” said Professor Frye. It wasn’t hard for Professor Frye to cope to the culture because everyone he met was “very friendly.” Few people spoke English, but he was able to communicate using gestures and pictures.

Professor Frye hopes to spend more time in China one day. Until then, what’s next? He will speak at a conference entitled, “By Any Other’s Name: A Conference on Law, Authorship and Appropriation” at LSU Law on October 28; at Hofstra Law School in its IP colloquium on November 7; at the Association of Moving Image Archivists conference in Pittsburgh on November 12; and he will present a program of his short films and videos at Cinema Contra in Denver, Colorado on December 6.