Google used in copyright campaign

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 March, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 March, 2006, 12:00am

The government has paid Google to feature links to websites that urge internet users to respect intellectual property rights.

Speaking on a radio programme yesterday, Peter Cheung Kam-fai, deputy director of the Intellectual Property Department, said the links had led to 6 million page views since the campaign began last month. Critics, however, have questioned its effectiveness.

When users type internet download-related words such as 'BT', 'online games' or 'MP3 download' into Google (Hong Kong), the 'sponsored links' section carries links to Intellectual Property Department pages promoting intellectual property protection.

Mr Cheung did not disclose how much the campaign cost.

Yahoo Hong Kong said the government approached it for such services but the two sides had not reached a deal.

Legislative Council information technology and broadcasting panel chairman Sin Chung-kai said placing such advertisements was typical of the government, but he questioned their effectiveness.

'Look at those adverts from InvestHK and the Tourism Board. Government ads are everywhere but how effective are they?' he said. 'It is hard to measure the effectiveness of such advertisements, but [the department] is trying to target internet users.'

Hong Kong, Kowloon and New Territories Motion Picture Industry Association chief executive Woody Tsung Wan-chi said the ads would not have much deterrent effect but were 'better than none'.

'It won't stop people from performing illegal downloading,' Mr Tsung said. 'But it might reinforce legal downloading among those who already have the habit of paying to download. [Such ads] are better than none.'

A 31-year-old regular BitTorrent user who downloads American television programmes and Japanese cartoons without paying said the department's effort would be ineffective.

'I never look [at the sponsored links] because they are filled with useless links or corporate links that are rubbish,' he said.

'This [government] thing is a waste of time. Once people realise that it's government propaganda telling people it is 'bad' to download, people will close the window right away.'

A department spokeswoman said the campaign aimed to educate internet users.

'This is only our first time to have a promotional campaign like this, so we have to wait and see how effective it is,' she said.

'Google charged us, of course, but the fees were reasonable.

'We wouldn't take it if it was too expensive.'




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