Copyright bill to be gazetted today

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 April, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 27 April, 2001, 12:00am

A bill to suspend part of the controversial copyright ordinance will finally be gazetted today after a special Executive Council meeting yesterday.

The bill seeks to roll back the criminalisation of unauthorised photocopying of newspapers and other printed materials.

The Government had planned to suspend the much-criticised legislation on Wednesday by rushing through the three readings on the same day. But officials failed to submit the complicated blueprint in time.

The Executive Council is understood to have endorsed the draft bill yesterday to suspend some relevant provisions until July 31 next year. It will be tabled in the Legislative Council on Wednesday.

A government spokesman said: 'The bill will suspend criminal sanctions against, say, unauthorised photocopying of newspapers or books or unauthorised downloading from the Internet in the course of business, including teaching activities in schools.'

But the photocopying of, for example, a book for the purpose of trade will still be a criminal offence after the suspension, as this is already an offence under the original Copyright Ordinance.

'There will also be no change to the civil remedies available to copyright owners in respect of all copyright works,' the spokesman added.

The Government will consult the community in an attempt to find a long-term solution.