Public views on piracy solicited

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 December, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 December, 1998, 12:00am

The public will soon be consulted on plans to make it illegal to buy pirated goods, a senior official said yesterday.

They would also be asked about proposals to close premises used to sell such goods and to make it an offence to videotape a film at a cinema.

Hong Kong was a major music and film centre and if it was to see the economy recover, it had to protect intellectual property rights, said Director of Intellectual Property Stephen Selby.

'If we destroy our trade position because our trading partners do not trust us, the effect on our economy would be very great,' he said.

France and India are among the handful of countries with laws making it illegal for people to own pirated goods.

Mr Selby rejected suggestions it would be difficult for consumers to differentiate between pirated and genuine goods.

'I do not believe the people who want to buy something genuine do not know where to get it.' There were genuine situations where consumers were victims, but at midnight in Mongkok, nobody wants to buy genuine articles, Mr Selby said.

From January to November this year, 36 million pirated optical discs worth $1.5 billion were seized.

Intellectual Property Examiner Belinda Sin Sung-ho said the department planned to visit 500 secondary schools starting from the new year to promote the protection of intellectual property.

Customs officers raided five temporary stalls in Sai Yeung Choi Street South, Mongkok, and seized 39,000 pirate compact discs valued at $660,000. Five men were arrested.