The Newspaper Society last night backed the controversial copyright law criminalising the unauthorised photocopying of newspapers. The meeting attended by 11 members of the society decided to consider setting up a body to collect royalties from the photocopying of newspapers. The society said confusion has arisen because of the need for copiers to negotiate with individual newspapers. Backing for the Intellectual Property (Miscellaneous Amendments) Ordinance 2000, which came into effect on April 1, came in spite of strong opposition from businesses groups and professionals on the grounds that it disrupts Hong Kong's free flow of information. The ordinance, enacted by the legislature last June, sets fines of up to $50,000 for each illegal copy taken and four years' imprisonment. However, the Newspaper Society said the law provided sufficient leeway for legitimate use of copyright materials. 'The law stipulates that, under certain conditions, the public will be allowed to have reasonable use of copyright materials for research, private studies, comments and news reports. It also allows libraries and schools to use such work in a reasonable manner,' a statement from the society reads. Attending the meeting were representatives from the South China Morning Post, Hong Kong iMail, Sing Pao, Ming Pao Daily, Hong Kong Economic Times, Wen Wei Po, Ta Kung Pao, China Daily Hong Kong edition, Sing Tao Daily, Hong Kong Commercial Daily and Hong Kong Daily News. Also present was a representative of the Hong Kong Economic Journal, which is not a member of the society. It backed the statement by society members. But the General Chamber of Commerce, in a submission to be tabled at today's Legco commerce and industry panel meeting on the controversial law, said it 'defies common sense' to criminalise the casual photocopying of newspapers in the workplace.