STAYING at home to watch a video could become as expensive as a night at the cinema after anti-piracy laws take effect in January, video store owners said yesterday. Retailers said home entertainment costs would soar under the regulations, which allow copyright owners and licensees to tighten their grip on the industry. Retailers can now buy films and programmes from all over the world without relying on the goodwill or prices of local licensees. When retailers buy overseas, there is no requirement to pay royalties to the local licensee. But a recently-gazetted bill restricts 'the right of rental' to copyright owners. Retailers might have to pay continuous royalties to local licensees of the movies they stock. The Intellectual Property (World Trade Organisation Amendments) Bill 1995 is meant to fight copyright infringement and allow copyright owners a greater share in the commercial popularity of their works. Store owners say the change will harm consumers because it weakens retailers' bargaining power in being able to buy overseas. KPS Retail Stores managing director Garrie Roman said the proposals would lead to a 50 per cent price rise and a 40 per cent cut in titles available. 'Home rental prices will soon be equivalent to cinema prices, with the same limitations of choice,' Mr Roman warned. The bill would encourage counterfeiting because consumers were denied access to a wide choice of competitively priced goods, he said. Retail Management Association chairman Rodney Miles said the amendments were 'seriously flawed'. 'The existing law protects copyright completely and allows the owner of the copyright to control at the initial point of sale,' he said. 'We believe this is full and entire protection for the copyright owner and there is no need at all for extra rights in any form to be given to licensees in Hong Kong.' Tower Records Asia managing director Keith Cahoon said the bill was 'not in the best interest of the music and video industries and certainly not in the best interests of the consumer'. Law consultant Christopher Britton said the bill conformed to international copyright norms but might be unsuitable for Hong Kong. There should be provisions to counterbalance the power it gave licensees, to prevent monopolies. 'There should be restrictions on charging high prices, delaying the release of particular titles or anything that would go against consumer interests and free movement of goods.'