Cartoonists, others oppose sanctions on parody

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 August, 2013, 3:56am

Cartoonists and internet users have taken a stand against a proposal that could criminalise those who parody graphical, audio or any other representations of copyrighted material.

However, government officials say mainly parodies made for commercial purposes would be subject to legal sanction.

Dozens of people joined a public forum on how to deal with parody under Hong Kong's copyright regime at the Central Library in Causeway Bay yesterday.

"The law should exempt everyone from civil and criminal liabilities, otherwise creators will self-censor," one cartoonist said, adding that the general public could not afford time-consuming legal battles.

But Ada Leung Ka-lai, deputy director of the Intellectual Property Department, said that only parodies that bring considerable economic loss to the copyright owners would be subject to the copyright law.

The government has come up with three options in its consultation paper on the issue. One would exempt parodies from existing criminal liability.

Another would exempt parody makers from civil and criminal liability as long as they met "fair dealing" requirements decided by the courts on the basis of criteria such as their purpose and any similarity with the original.

The final option would clarify criminal sanction to exempt parody makers from prosecution unless their works caused "more than trivial" economic damage.

Leung also emphasised that the Customs Department would only press charges if a copyright owner reported a case to them.

But one woman said a climate of fear might develop if people created parodies based on products to which the government held the copyright.

The next forum will be held on September 22 in the Cultural Centre at Tsim Sha Tsui.