Leung Chun Ying

Censoring parody no joke, says comedian

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 June, 2012, 12:00am

Jim Chim Sui-man fears that his next stage production, Mr Rubber Man, could be his last before he is put behind bars.

The comedian, who parodies copyrighted works extensively and shares videos of his productions online, is among numerous artists who could be sued if legislators pass changes to copyright law.

They and pro-democracy legislators argue that parodies of copyrighted works should be exempt from the Copyright (Amendment) Ordinance. Under the proposed amendment, criminal sanctions would apply where distribution of any copyrighted work by electronic means, including the internet, was so extensive 'as to affect prejudicially the copyright owners'.

'Art is an imitation of life, and humans are merely reproducing things that do not belong to them,' Chim says.

'Even Picasso had to create images imitating his women to reflect his feelings and his view of women,' he said. 'Is there really such a thing as primary creation - to create something out of nothing? I don't think anyone can do that except God.'

Chim says his works 'will be greatly affected', as his act often pokes fun at famous personalities from politicians to celebrities.

The pan-democrat camp has proposed that prosecution be limited to cases involving 'non-trivial' economic damage.

Internet users are still worried that sharing parodies online would put them at risk of going to jail.

The debate has been extended to whether parodies or pastiche - piecing together excerpts of others' works - should be completely exempted.

Legislative Council discussion of the amendment has been postponed due to the strong reaction, combined with the knock-on effect of an aborted filibuster of amendments to the electoral law covering by-elections and chief executive-elect Leung Chun-ying's government restructuring proposal.

Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Greg So Kam-leung earlier said he would not give up on the bill but was uncertain if the amendment would be passed before the end of the Legco term on July 18.

Chim says he has created parodies based on news events that involve political figures from first chief executive Tung Chee-hwa and current leader Donald Tsang Yam-kuen to chief executive-elect Leung Chun-ying and Henry Tang Ying-yen, who lost to Leung.

'The existing Copyright Ordinance does not protect creators, it protects politicians from being teased,' he says.

His latest show exploring the 'core values of Hong Kong' will be no exception. 'My commentaries are not about the person, but the world they represent,' Chim said.

'Politicians should accept the fact that they will be teased. My comedies are in fact doing the government a favour - they give the public a channel to vent their discontent.'