Copyright law faces more delays after extra changes

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 January, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 January, 2002, 12:00am

The troubled copyright law is likely to be suspended for another six months to allow more scrutiny by legislators of amendments.

Under the latest proposed changes to the legislation, the use of pirated computer software by office workers who are forced to do so by their employers will be decriminalised.

But existing bans on charities using pirated software and large-scale unauthorised photocopying of books will be kept. In a paper submitted to the legislature yesterday, the Government said it also would relax some provisions governing photocopying for educational purpose.

The Copyright Ordinance will also be changed to introduce civil penalties against illegal interception of pay television. But criminal sanctions will be considered if they fail to stop the practice.

Last April, a large section of the original bill passed by the legislature was suspended until July this year. Critics said criminal liability attached to the anti-piracy law was too wide.

But as an interim measure, people are still criminally liable for using pirated software, movies, television dramas and musical recordings.

Most of the new proposals will be introduced to Legco before July. The suspension will be extended until January if lawmakers fail to pass the new proposals before July.

But it is unlikely they will be approved by then because of the heavy legislative schedule.